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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Notable Book of 2020

New York Times best-selling author Lesley M.M. Blume reveals how one courageous American reporter uncovered one of the deadliest cover-ups of the 20th century - the true effects of the atom bomb - potentially saving millions of lives. 

Just days after the United States decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear bombs, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. But even before the surrender, the US government and military had begun a secret propaganda and information suppression campaign to hide the devastating nature of these experimental weapons. The cover-up intensified as Occupation forces closed the atomic cities to Allied reporters, preventing leaks about the horrific long-term effects of radiation that would kill thousands during the months after the blast. For nearly a year the cover-up worked - until New Yorker journalist John Hersey got into Hiroshima and managed to report the truth to the world. 

As Hersey and his editors prepared his article for publication, they kept the story secret - even from most of their New Yorker colleagues. When the magazine published "Hiroshima" in August 1946, it became an instant global sensation and inspired pervasive horror about the hellish new threat that America had unleashed. Since 1945, no nuclear weapons have ever been deployed in war partly because Hersey alerted the world to their true, devastating impact. This knowledge has remained among the greatest deterrents to using them since the end of World War II.

Released on the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, Fallout is an engrossing detective story, as well as an important piece of hidden history that shows how one heroic scoop saved - and can still save - the world.

©2020 Lesley M. M. Blume. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Required reading (listening, too)!

This true-to-life story is a required lesson in humanity and democracy. The impact of John Hersey’s Hiroshima is renewed with contextual relevance to not only 1946, but also compellingly more than ever to today’s hair-trigger world. It is a civics lesson for young persons and old alike. It is a pointer to how powerful people write events and create histories colored by their own precepts, desires, and greed, and renews Americans’ obligation to question and assert.

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A must read!

The general public is unaware of the multitude of secret projects our government is conducting that may cause catastrophic consequences to all humanity.


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The Story Of Cause And Effect

Thank you to Ms. Blume for telling this story and once again shining light on the immense destructive power of nuclear weapons and the effort by the government to keep that power secret from the public. I can’t say that in that time, any of us might have made a different decision to use these weapons after such a long, dark conflict. It is easy to look back now, out of context of the time and say, “No, we can’t use this weapon”. Walking in history’s shoes is much easier decades later than when it is happening.

Still, there is always cause and effect for any action and the impact to Hiroshima, and later Nagasaki, was horrible on the people of Japan and later on the peoples of the world. Hersey’s story should be required reading for all time with Ms. Blume’s story as an addendum. Because cause and effect will always be with us when deciding which action to take. Thoughtful consideration of the many outcomes of any action to be taken is not weakness, but rather to honor those who are directly impacted and will follow.

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Timeless, and still useful.

My non-fiction book group has a motto, books that change the way you understand the world. Our Japanese member suggested this title as one to fulfill our “regional studies” quota for the year(areas such as East, South or Southwest Asia; Central America; etc.) Wow! Powerful words, simply stated in a very moving way to tell the tale of government officials, journalists, ordinary people and the after-effects on global international relations. My late father fought with MacArthur in the SW Pacific Theater of WWII en route to Japan. I’ve read my way from Bataan to Port Moresby, and through the islands to the Philippines. This was a powerful bookend to that story.

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Darkly Beautiful and Disturbingly Relevant

Though well-versed in, and always learning more of U.S. History, I was unaware of elements of this story that, largely through the efforts of the subjects of this fine book, were common knowledge by the late 1940’s. But I was assured in high school and college that the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were well-justified. I suppose that if I had been more astute, it could have occurred to me that the mere presence of those justifications indicated controversy as to their veracity. And I was unaware of the government effort to deceive the American public about the nature and extent of the havoc inflicted by nuclear weapons following their use in 1945. Apparently, the public learned their government lied to them, then they forgot, and taught their children nothing of this deception.

Today we are still surrounded by deception. Whether it's the obvious lies of a Donald Trump, or the more subtle - and therefore more permeating - lies proffered by the false promises of capitalism, we are all of us subjects of the whims of fabricated truth. All we can do is our best, of course, and in that sense, this book provides a certain sense of uplift, even justice. It augers the benefits of truth at a time when ever more people seem to need refuge from it. It serves as reinforcing the adages that there is no justice without truth, and that truth can set us free. Hatred, division, lassitude, corruption...all depend on lies. In this book, we see an instance when light was brought to bear, and the people responded.

We’ll never know whether further nuclear exchanges were forestalled thanks to the work referred to in Fallout. But we know we need journalists and truth tellers as much as ever. This book gave me hope that the truth will out, and a deep respect for the people who made it happen in 1946.

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The story behind the story

Though I read Hiroshima 50 years -after its writing I certainly will not forget it. Fallout is a wonderful companion to illustrate the extraordinary lengths taken to research write & publish the piece and the impact it made in so many ways.

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fallout - great detail and insight

Good information. caused me to research more. especially since I live near to Los Alamos and Trinity. also caused me to research atrocities on both sides of the war.
Although saddened by the horrorible suffering that followed Hiroshima, I have no doubt that had our enemies achieved the A-bomb first, it would have been used on us.

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the greatest argument for peace

“...the greatest argument for peace the world has ever seen”.

Perhaps we can be brave, to explore an issue, a story, in all of its messy detail and complexity. As many times as this story has been told, it continues to horrify. The bombing itself and even more so, the cover up afterwards. The vivid descriptions of the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are haunting. Hopefully, the findings of Hersey and other journalists pursuing the truth, will continue to be used to educate and remind people of the horrors of war and the threat our governments can represent to their own people and others. While this an account of a story and its aftermath from more than 70 years ago, many of the themes and issues it raises are very much with us today. Some issues are clearer than others, but most involve messy and often inconvenient details, and at least some complexity. If we want to be free and the best versions of oursevlves and as a civilization, we must be willing to embrace the messiness. Most of us used to like playing in mud as children, feeling the different textures and strange sensations. What happened to us?

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First-rate in every respect!

There are books I would suggest that are best, or at least as well, listened to as read. The narration here is superb, the substance readily grasped, and the subject matter both riveting and important. I could not recommend this book more highly.

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Excellent book, chilling details of Hiroshima

I thought this an excellent recap of the telling of the true affects on the Hiroshima people, the attempted cover ups and how important true journalism is the and most certainly now!