A journalistic masterpiece. John Hersey transports us back to the streets of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945 - the day the city was destroyed by the first atomic bomb. Told through the memories of six survivors, Hiroshima is a timeless, powerful classic that will awaken your heart and your compassion. In this new edition, Hersey returns to Hiroshima to find the survivors - and to tell their fates in an eloquent and moving final chapter.
©1985 John Hersey (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC
British ex-pat living in NC. Have more personalities than Sybil which is reflected in my choice of books! Frustrated writer at heart.
Hiroshima, theAn easy read about a most shameful era in the history of mankind.
Can you imagine walking into work one morning thinking about your children safely deposited at the local school and your spouse at home. Perhaps she will be making your favorite meal tonight. You are happily planning your day and looking forward to crossing things off your 'To Do' list.
All of a sudden there is a massive bright light all encompassing ahead of you. Explosive, no 'implosive' noises that make you feel as if your ear drums will turn inside out. Everything comes to a halt. Hundreds, no, perhaps thousands of people just stop in their tracks. Seeing a mushroom shaped light you stare up at the brightest clod that you have ever beheld. Of course at that time no one in the general public has ever heard of an Atom bomb. What do you do? Everywhere you look there are the dead and dying. You are a part of a culture that is highly compliant when it comes to the rule makers in the government. However there are no rules for this. Indeed how could there be?
This book puts faces, names and breaths life into this story. This is a living history.
This is one history that I pray we never repeat.
It's the story of 6 survivors of the A-bomb at Hiroshima. It reflects on the atrocity of a "total war" strategy but also in the surprising paradigm of the Japanese. I was supposed to read it in middle school but I did not.
The book itself is pretty simple; a narrative that groups each subject "bomb affected person" in somewhat-defined chaptered spans of time. The descriptions are concise and laregly unembellished. Simply one fact or event to the next. The culmination of these pictures provides a dynamic portrait of the Japanese population both at the time of the attack and later in life.
I don't like to say I "like" books where the subject matter is so terrible, particularly a book of non-fiction, but it is interesting and I hope, for a variety of reasons, it stays on required reading lists.
Considering I've only read one other audio book thus far, this is ranked at number one.
I didn't really have a favorite character because they are real people, and all of them were interesting, but I fuess I looked forward to listening to what happened to Miss Sasaki after the explosion the most. "What happened to that poor, lonely girl with the leg?" But I have to say, I really thought the German father--Father Kleinsorge was the most inspiring and kind.
He paused at all the right moments. It was kind of a funny combination because although I really found his voice to be pleasing and matter of factly, I kept thinking that he would be great as narrator for Charlotte's Web or Stuart Little.
There were a few parts that felt like I might could cry, but there is such a distance kept between the reader and the people in the book, that it was a little difficult to get too close.
Reading allows me to travel through time; to visit the world's unique and stunning places. To become somebody I am not... It is glorious.
I have never read Hersey's classic and after listening to the entire thing in one sitting I am baffled as to how I overlooked it. The book is phenomenal. It tells the story in a simple, fluid and seamless way. Hersey wrote with compassion and understanding without any hint of being a traitor to his home country which could not have been an easy line to cross in 1946. Today's world is so politically divisive and nobody escapes it -- journalists almost always show their colors in their writing and are deemed too liberal or too conservative. In the time that Hersey wrote this journalistic piece showing any empathy toward the Japanese was considered wrong and he could easily have been treated as a traitor. I am so impressed with his ability to show the right level of respect and warmth for the victims of the bomb and to do all of it without coming out of it sounding preachy.
Follow me on Goodreads too!
It was interesting to learn more about Hiroshima from the point of view of the survivors; I learned a few new things.
I would have liked more information about the immediate aftermath and less of the “where are they now” follow-ups, but overall it was a very informative book.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
I never knew about this book til I saw it on sale recently. I knew I needed to listen to the story, partially because I have a friend whose grandmother was burned in the bombing and survived. I also think we all need to know about these terrible events in history so hopefully, we don't ever repeat them.
John Hersey's book focuses on 6 survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, describing what it was like for them during the bomb explosion and how they fared afterwards. It was originally meant to be a four part article in the New Yorker magazine but a few months after the first one appeared, the entire four part series was published as a book.
My first reaction was anger--that SO many innocent civilians were so horribly killed or maimed. The very first part of the book was difficult for me to listen to, very difficult. The subsequent parts following of the six survivors was very compelling. Human beings are so resilient. That is what I came away from this story feeling, among the various other emotions and thoughts I was left with.
This is a very well written book with an excellent narration by George Guidall, not surprisingly. I do highly recommend this book.
I could wile away the hours...
This audiobook rises to the top. The bombing of Hiroshima and its immediate, mid-range, and long-term impact on the modern world cannot be overstated.
The author. Before John McPhee could perfect the art of nonfiction, bringing reality to life, he stood on the shoulder of a giant. That titan was John Hersey.
It's understated, matter of fact, and because of the horrific nature of some of the material, that's a relief.
It made me realize that people suffer and endure, and create new lives, even after remarkable stress, loss, and devastation.
Recommended without reservations.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
"As Mrs. Nakamura stood watching her neighbor everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. . . . the reflex of a mother set her in motion toward her children. She had taken a single step . . . when something picked her up and she seemed to fly into the next room over the raised sleeping platform, pursued by parts of her house."
In Hiroshima (1946) John Hersey recounts the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 AM by rotating among the points of view and experiences of six real life survivors: Mr. Tanimoto (pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church), Mrs. Nakamura (a widow with three small kids), Dr. Fujii (owner of a one-doctor hospital), Father Kleinsorge (a Catholic German priest), Dr. Sasaki (a young surgeon in the Red Cross Hospital), and Miss Sasaki (a twenty-year-old tin factory worker).
In addition the moment of detonation (like what Mrs. Nakamura experienced above), Hersey depicts the moments immediately after:
"Dr. Fujii hardly had time to think that he was dying before he realized that he was alive, squeezed tightly by two long timbers in a V across his chest, like a morsel suspended between two huge chopsticks--held upright, so that he could not move, with his head miraculously above water and his torso and legs in it. The remains of his hospital were all around him in a mad assortment of splintered lumber and materials for the relief of pain. His left shoulder hurt terribly. His glasses were gone."
Hersey writes with simplicity, sympathy, and irony:
"principally and first of all, the bookcases right behind her [Miss Sasaki] swooped forward and the contents threw her down, with her left leg horribly twisted and breaking underneath her. There, in the tin factory, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books."
Hersey shows how the six survivors extracted themselves (or were extracted) from their particular ruins and observed the "mere pattern of residue" that the 6,000 degree centigrade and 8.0 tons per square yard of pressure of the blast had left of their city: "as much of Hiroshima as he [Mr. Tanimoto] could see through the clouded air was giving off a thick, dreadful miasma. Clumps of smoke, near and far, had begun to push up through the general dust. He wondered how such extensive damage could have been dealt out of a silent sky."
Of course, much of the devastation involved human beings: 245,000 people were in the city, 100,000 were killed at once and 100,000 more were hurt, 10,000 went to the Red Cross Hospital, where Dr. Sasaki was the only uninjured doctor (of 1780 city nurses, 1654 were killed or hurt by the bomb), and was soon treating like an automaton in a charnel house an unending mass of burned and raw human flesh. Many intense details: survivors eating pumpkins roasted on a vine, asphalt softening with heat, a woman clinging to her dead baby for days, and Mr. Tanimoto trying to pull a woman into his boat only to have her skin slip off "in huge, glovelike pieces" in his hands.
Having visited the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum, I'd known about the flash and heat of the blast making people's skin drip off, searing eyeballs from sockets, and burning shadows onto walls and kimono patterns onto skin, but I'd never heard about the creepy radiation-inspired growth of plants and flowers: "Over everything--up through the wreckage of the city, in gutters, along the riverbanks, tangled among tiles and tin roofing, climbing on charred tree trunks--was a blanket of fresh, vivid, lush, optimistic green. . . . Weeds already hid the ashes, and wild flowers were in bloom among the city's bones."
Hersey depicts the situation about a month after the bomb: the coming of radiation sickness (fever, depilation, diarrhea, anemia, blood disorders, running sores, etc.), the US Army's doctors and scientists recording the effects of radiation on people rather than alleviating emotional and physical suffering, the Occupation authority trying to keep such information (and other details of the bomb) from Japanese scientists and doctors.
Although he does not debate the necessity of the bombing, he does at one point approach criticism of it, saying that the survivors "were too busy or too weary or too badly hurt to care that they were the objects of the first great experiment in the use of atomic power, which (as the voices on the short wave shouted) no country except the United States, with its industrial know-how, its willingness to throw two billion gold dollars into an important wartime gamble, could possibly have developed."
Perhaps the most moving part of the book is the last, "The Aftermath," in which Hersey relates each survivor’s bomb-marked life for up to forty years, each person managing to live with dignity, creativity, and energy despite long-term health problems. Throughout, Hersey cites the years in which other countries began their own bomb testing. And the book ends on a wistful note: As the USA and the USSR were "steadily climbing the steep steps of deterrence . . . . His [Mr. Tanimotos’s] memory, like the world's, was getting spotty."
Hersey writes a concise, matter-of-fact, and vivid style that presents the details of the bombing at times like a harrowing, surreal prose poem. His sharp focus on Hiroshima does not include the bombing of Nagasaki or the historical context of Japanese aggression, Pearl Harbor, and the Pacific War. Although he mostly avoids obvious judgment as to the morality of the bombing, by the end any feeling person would be appalled and moved, no matter how many Japanese citizens' and American soldiers' lives they thought were spared by the bombing (especially if they listen to the audiobook read by the ever excellent and humane George Guidall).
Hiroshima must still be read, the bombing witnessed.
The book follows the lives of six people who survived the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. The detail presented of the event itself, plus the aftermath, plus the recovery is very compelling. As one might imagine, parts of the book are very hard to take (descriptions of what literally happened to the bodies of those who survived and perished). Let's hope something like this never happens again.
Report Inappropriate Content