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Hiroshima (Penguin Magnum Collection) [Paperback]

John Hersey
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 May 2009 Penguin Magnum Collection
When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 100,000 men, women and children, it was the beginning of a terrifying new episode in human history. Written only a year after the disaster, John Hersey brought the event vividly alive with this heart-rending account of six men and women who survived despite all the odds. He added a further chapter when, forty years later, he returned to Hiroshima to discover how the same six people had struggled to cope with catastrophe and with often crippling disease. The result is a devastating picture of the long-term effects of one very small bomb.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141041862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141041865
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 864,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Review

'To this day nothing tells better the horror of Hiroshima ... One of the most powerful writers of modern times' Washington Post 'A vision of hell ... its terrible images are reminiscent of Dante's Inferno' The Times

About the Author

John Hersey was born in Tientsin, China, in 1914, and lived there until 1925, when his family returned to the United States. He studied at Yale and Clare College, Cambridge, served for a time as Sinclair Lewis's secretary, and then worked for several years as a journalist. He published seventeen works of fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize winning A Bell for Adano. Besides Hiroshima which was first published in 1946, he wrote six books of essays and reportage. He died in 1993.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
When the atomic bomb fell at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was a thriving city of two hundred forty-five thousand people. By 8:20, one hundred thousand of those people were dead. Combining the broad perspective of the absolute devastation of the city with the tiniest details of six individual lives, John Hersey provides a powerful closeup of a few survivors of the atomic attack on Hiroshima, giving the carnage a human perspective.

Focusing on Mr. Tanimoto, a Methodist pastor; Mrs. Nakamura, the widow of a tailor, and her three children; Dr. Masakazu Fujii, a physician in a private clinic; Fr. Wilhelm Kleinsorge, S. J, a priest in a Catholic mission; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young surgeon at the Red Cross Hospital; and Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in a tin works, as they survive the initial attack, the author follows their daily movements, their subsequent illnesses, their fears, and the eventual outcomes of their lives. The victims become human, and their concerns become universal, as Hersey shows them digging themselves out and helping their neighbors, filled with an "elated community spirit" in the days and weeks after the bombing.

Details of the fires following the bombing, the unexpected radiation sickness, the mysteries surrounding the kind of bomb that was dropped (some Japanese believed that the allies had sprinkled powdered magnesium over the city and then ignited it), the devastating rains that followed, and the monumental scale of the damage are presented in straightforward, factual style, the horrors of the reality so overwhelming that Hersey had no need to try to control his narrative by selecting details or ordering them for effect.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I came across this book via the recommendation system after buying several books by Japanese authors and thought it would be worth finding out about what happened to the people involved. Everyone knows (or should!!) what happened but when the personal tales are painted in such a clear manner it is utterly absorbing.
In summary it is a collection of amazing personal stories written in a fantastically vivid and clear journalistic fashion; a book everyone should read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hiroshima 14 July 2011
By TomCat
Format:Paperback
Hiroshima isn't your usual history book: it's a highly novelistic piece of journalism which carries with it all the standard tropes of novelistic writing: direct speech, suspense, family drama, personal histories etc. etc. As such, you probably shouldn't read it as a work of history: readers looking for factual information about Hiroshima and the bombing are going to be disappointed: there's no attention to dates, political movements, the wider war: there is no examination of the reasoning or morality behind the bomb and no discussion of it's wider significance and impact.

Instead, the book follows the lives of 6 survivors (I can only assume the book was compiled from numerous interviews conducted with such individuals) and charts their experiences during and in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. It's a highly subjective and impressionistic portrayal of the bombing: the events are(more of less) explained entirely through the eyes of these survivors, and where they are mistaken or incorrect in what they think is happening, the narrative never corrects them or informs the reader of the truth.

In this regard, it's more like a novel than a work of history. However, it is a very, very moving and well-written book. The 6 narratives are all deeply affecting while simultaneously shocking and distressing. Their individual stories and histories are set against a political/war time setting which none of them fully understood at the time (it was several months later that the U.S. announced what type of weapon it had used), which only compounds the upsetting sense of confusion and despair that runs through the book. The individuals involved and their separate acts of heroism and survival are all distinct, easy to follow and incredibly interesting.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
When the atomic bomb dropped at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was a thriving city of two hundred forty-five thousand people. By 8:20, one hundred thousand of those people were dead. Combining the broad perspective of the absolute devastation of the city with the tiniest details of six individual lives, John Hersey provides a powerful closeup of a few survivors of the atomic attack on Hiroshima, giving the carnage a human perspective.

Focusing on Mr. Tanimoto, a Methodist pastor; Mrs. Nakamura, the widow of a tailor, and her three children; Dr. Masakazu Fujii, a physician in a private clinic; Fr. Wilhelm Kleinsorge, S. J, a priest in a Catholic mission; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young surgeon at the Red Cross Hospital; and Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in a tin works, as they survive the initial attack, the author follows their daily movements, their subsequent illnesses, their fears, and the eventual outcomes of their lives. The victims become human, and their concerns become universal, as Hersey shows them digging themselves out and helping their neighbors, filled with an "elated community spirit" in the days and weeks after the bombing.

Details of the fires following the bombing, the unexpected radiation sickness, the mysteries surrounding the kind of bomb this was (some Japanese believed that the allies had sprinkled powdered magnesium over the city and then ignited it), the devastating rains that followed, and the monumental scale of the damage are presented in straightforward, factual style, the horrors of the reality so overwhelming that Hersey had no need to try to control his narrative by selecting details or ordering them for effect.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A sobering account
I remember, as a youngster, reading the paperback version and finding it very absorbing. Now, years later, it is great to have this audio version. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Hersey - The man who showed the world the truth of the atomic bomb
I won't write my own revue, but after reading the reviews of many on this site, I thought it best to clip some parts from Wikipedia which reiterate opinions stated after its... Read more
Published 9 months ago by R. A. Fallows
5.0 out of 5 stars good
recommended by tutors.very good!worth reading for Journalism students.Also a representative work for researching into New Journalism.printing is of high quality.
Published 10 months ago by neal
5.0 out of 5 stars A blinding flash...
Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Franklin Roosevelt urging him to develop an atomic bomb, fearful that the Germans would be first. Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2011 by John P. Jones III
4.0 out of 5 stars WELL KNOWN EVENT RARELY WRITTEN FROM A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE
This was an interesting piece of writing,as that what it real is. John Hersey writes about six people and how the dropping of the A bomb affected them at the time, and how the rest... Read more
Published on 3 Feb 2011 by bibliophile
5.0 out of 5 stars Equally shocking and stunning. Should be compulsory
Anyone who sees a virtue in an atom bomb should read this account of the sufferings, the sights and the sounds of the aftermath of the biggest single human act of destruction ever... Read more
Published on 13 Dec 2010 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Six key witnesses to the atomic bomb
Hersey's 'Hiroshima' has to be one of the essential books of the 20th century. The book is mainly devoted to recounting the memories of six witnesses (five native to Japan and one... Read more
Published on 16 May 2010 by Brian Flange
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by everyone
I feel that this book should be read by everyone. It's not necessarily what you'd expect and it's not one sided or biased or pointed or contrived, or even desperately political,... Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2010 by Mis Joanna Davidson
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrors of Hiroshima
A very interesting description of the hours and days following the nuclear attack on Hiroshima at the close of World War 2. Read more
Published on 27 Aug 2009 by Lisa Marie Hostick
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
One of the most important books ever written. The sheer horror of the stories recounted by the survivors is graphically detailed. Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2009 by R. Kampel
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