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am 1. März 2000
Hiroshima was published in 1946 - a year after the bomb was dropped - in New Yorker magazine. Uniquely in its history, the magazine devoted its entire issue to Hersey's 30,000 word essay. Only later was it turned into a book; the final chapter on the subsequent lives of the six subjects wasn't written until 1985.
Hersey set out to put a human face on the consquences of the atomic bomb. All earlier news accounts, articles and stories had been focused on the statistics, the science, and the effort that led to the nuclear weapon. Understood in that context, understanding what Hersey was trying to do and say, the book is even more remarkable.
It is not a novel; a novel is a work of fiction. It is an essay, a work of reportage. This story is true. The book is all the more remarkable because Hersey was born and raised in China, the son of missionaries, and had no reason to be sympathetic to or about the Japanese. A war correspondent for Time, he earned a commendation from the U.S. Army at Guadacanal. He cannot fairly be accused of anything but supreme objectivity. By telling the true stories of six survivors in an absolutely straightforward way, without judging the decision to use the bomb, he put an intensely human face on the consequences.
He was criticized at the time and is criticized today for taking the events that day out of context. The bomb is supposed to have saved a million American casualties (a highly suspect figure today). It was supposed to have shortened the war by a year or more. Those critics are themselves missing the true context. At the time, the historical events leading to Truman's decision were well known (although recast in February 1947 by Stinson). Hersey's goal was to make the story real in a new way. Those facts are well and good, Hersey is saying, but there were bad consequences as well. In the process, he created a remarkable book.
I was glad to see New York University recently named Hersey's Hiroshima as the best single work of reporting in the 20th century. As events unfold in the escalating nuclear arms race on the Indian subcontinent, everyone needs to understand the human consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. By helping keep Hersey's work before us, perhaps we can avoid another Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
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am 21. Februar 2000
No matter what your views of the atomic bomb are. Whether you think Japan deserved the bomb, or Truman did it to save lives and end the war, or that the bomb was really nuclear diplomacy: you should still read this book. A tiny little book that shows the human effects of the bomb. Well written, short and to the point. This is a must read. Anyone who is interested in WWII and the bomb needs to read this book. I thank my US History since 1945 Professor, Dr. Crawly for assigning us this book.
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am 28. Juli 1998
We are used to hearing about the numbers that died, and suffered. But what Hersey does with this book is he shows the people embedded in the statistics of war. When we wadge a war against another people we want them to be mean, vicious, and only conqurable by extreme measures.
However this book dispells the propaganda and the politics. It moves you passed the biased depictions in American history books. It shows that we did not bomb the Japanese government that actually order the bomb dropped on Pearl Harbor. We bomb women preparing their children for school, and men reading the morning newspaper. I guess for some readers these victims seemed too human, too much like themselves and their families that they didn't like the feeling of empathy this book inspires for "the enemy."
Hersey also shows that there may be other great atrocities against mankind with greater fatalities. However the repercussions of this event made countless succeeding generations suff! er like no other before its time.
There is a scene in the book where a man reaches to help a person trapped. He reaches his hand for the person and the man's skin comes off, as though it were clay. In another scene the author descibes the misery some of the survivors had to suffer when their cells literally began to self-destruct releasing toxins and breaking down organs.
These scenes show the graphic and true misery that spell the word war. If anything it should not put Americans on the defensive, it ahould inspire us to learn from our egregious mistakes and help to find a better way to resolve our international conflicts. Although we like to think of ourselves as being one nation under God, God was not on our side that day.
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am 9. November 1998
John Hersey's Hiroshima is an excellent book to display the events in a war the opposing side cannot grasp. All too often a society justifies heinous acts of war if they are summarized as "bomb" or "conflict." Hersey puts faces to the generalizations and numbers, forcing a reader to understand that enemies are people with hearts, minds, and souls. The book wasn't a question of opinion, "Should we have done it?" Rather, it was a journalistically unbiased approach to telling the survivors' stories. The novel creates community among demographically diverse readers by unifying concepts of survival, humanity, and reconciliation. Hersey's essay simply was not the redundant, overused concept of, "Don't let history repeat itself." The book was an epiphany; readers met survivors and were forced to be put in their shoes. Readers saw how the people of Hiroshima weren't revengeful, just desperately wanted the hate to end. The novel was not Anti-America or Pro-Japan, it broke all culture boundaries and lines of hate to form universal realizations. Yes, compassion and sypathy are inevitably felt, but the book did not press guilt upon a reader. I praise John Hersey and Hiroshima for letting the stories of six survivors be known - the entire truth of their pain and courage. Every day is sacred in its opportunities to change lives and have lasting effects on the future. Through reading Hiroshima, all readers are woken up to harsh realities and are inevitably changed.
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am 23. Mai 2000
Hiroshima, by John Hersey, is about the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and what happened to six people before and after the explosion. Their names are Miss. Toshiko Sasaki, Dr. Masakazu Fujii, Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, Dr. Terufumi Sasaki and the Rev. Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto. Hiroshima is a very graphic book with sickening descriptions. I think that some of these descriptions were as graphic as the ones in The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston. "Pus oozed out of her wound, and soon the whole pillow was covered with it."(Pg.81) is just one of the many gory descriptions from Hiroshima.
I thought that Hiroshima had its ups and downs. For one, the book was very confusing because there were lots of people and the story kept switching from on person to another. I found myself lost in a a sea of words at times because of this. That was the main bad facet of the book. On the other hand, I thought the book was good because when you did understand what was happening, you felt as if you were actually there because the descriptions in Hiroshima were so vivid. Also, I like the book because it showed you what actually happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and what could happen if a nuclear war broke out. Overall, I though Hiroshima was a good book. I would recommend this book to people who like History and especially WW2.
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am 9. November 1998
In my opinion, Hiroshima by John Hersey is a great book. It is a book that I believe everyone should read. John Hersey tells this tragic story from six of the survivors points-of-view, which is really interesting and caught my attention. Reading about the stories these six survivors have to tell really helped me to understand what emotional pain the people of Hiroshima experienced. Before reading this book I never really had an opinion on the bombing of Hiroshima; it never ran through my mind. After reading this book I now have an understanding of what happened in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, which I'm thankful I have. Stories of shock, helping each other, and moving on are told. We tend not to think about the people that lost their homes, family, and friends because it didn't happen to us or our country. However, it was real and did happen. John Hersey tells the surviving stories of Miss Toshinki Sasaki, Dr. Masakazu Fujii, Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, Dr. Terfumi Sasaki, and Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, and also in the new edition their fates forty years later. There is no better way to tell the story of Hiroshima than by the survivors of it. I enjoyed this book very much and encourage everyone who hasn't read it to do so.
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am 9. November 1998
I thought that John Hersey's Hiroshima could have packed a huge impact, but the power wouldn't be felt immediately. It wasn't until the second time I read through the book that I got any type of emotion out of it. Although the purpose of the book was to inform readers of the effects of nuclear warfare, I experienced more of the suffering aspect. Granted, this was the first account I've seen of how devastating the bomb was to individuals, but the effect I think it was supposed to have (one of utter disgust for our country's ability to do this to other people) completely missed me. I didn't have a heart-felt reaction to the book. I didn't actually feel sad for the people involved. I didn't hate America for their actions. On the other hand, I didn't hate the book. I just didn't think it had any real purpose. Yes, it did give an accurate account of the lives of the hibakusha, but it failed to show why it was doing so. I think if Hersey would have explained the inner importance of the emotions of those people, I would have gotten more out the book. It wasn't a bad read, but the lack of purpose brings this one down. I'd give it 2½ stars, but in this case I'll give it 3.
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am 18. November 1998
John Hersey's Hiroshima is one of the better books I have read about the atomic bomb that brought an end to World War II. His personal account of the six hibakusha took the devastation and destruction the bomb brought to a more significant level. The stories of Miss Sasaki, Dr. Fujii, Mrs. Nakamura, Dr. Sasaki, Father Kleinsorge, and Reverend Tanimoto touched my heart---as well as many others I know. The vivid details he used made me realize that when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, we dropped pain and disaster on the hundreds of thousands of people living there. The last chapter, "The Aftermath," really brought home the effects of the bombing, because even after 40 years many Japanese were still suffering from radiation sickness and other diseases. It was definitely a long, hard road to recovery these people had to travel. No matter what the history books say or what Hersey has presented in his novel, though, the bombing can be summed up with one phrase: "Shikata ga-nai---it can't be helped."
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am 13. März 1999
The book Hiroshima was not what it seemed to be to me. I thought it would have a lot more depth to it and the six people that John Hersey interviewed were usually just being normal and didn't really show real deep emotion toward the tragedy that has happened in this book. The people in the book were interesting to read about but they were just too plain. If there was a country's president or someone really important, not to say that they weren't important because that is a great gift to be saved from dying in an explosion that had an impact on the whole world. If you choose to read this book, try to look at it as if you were one of those people so then you can get into the book a lot more than what I did. I did do that in the first and fifth chapters so I understood it much more than what I did in the chapters in between. I would like to recommend this book to those people that are into real climax stories and role-playing stories. I also recommend this book to those of you that choose a tragedy over a comedy or suspenseful novel.
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am 29. Oktober 1999
One moment from the book that caught in my memory is what happens to Mr. Tanimoto when the bomb dropped. Mr. Tanimoto and a a friend were walking to a house to drop off perishables from their church and when they arrived the bomb was dropped. Mr. Tanimoto remembered that there was a flash of light across the sky and he threw himself between two large boulders in the garden. When he raised himself from the ground he saw that the house had collapsed with his friend inside of it. He was thankful that he hadn't dived into the entryway like his unfortunate friend. He walked away from the house thinking that the bomb must have dropped right on top of it because of the destruction caused. Hiroshima is an accurate story of the tales of six survivors but it is a completely dull read. It starts to be captivating, but when Hersey changes abruptly to another character it becomes confusing and tests your memory too much.
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