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Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima Hardcover – 18 Jul 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (18 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719566258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719566257
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 24.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 502,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Simply riveting. You live every breathless second of it. A terrific book (Michael Buerk)

A devastating story grippingly told, Shockwave also succeeds in being a compelling portrayal of human beings at work. (Lloyds List)

Remarkable. I have been waiting for this book for sixty years (Gitta Sereny author of Albert Speer: His Battle)

Stephen Walker has produced a bravura performance ... the horror of what happened is almost impossible to bear (Focus)

Riveting (Soldier)

Shockwave combines racy, colorful historical detail with profound human concern in a way that does justice to its weighty theme. A remarkable storytelling achievement (Frederick Taylor, author of Dresden)

An utterly gripping work of micro-history. Stephen Walker proves himself to be a master of dramatic tension (Christopher Silvester, Sunday Express)

'Somehow through the pages of this taut chronology the merest whisper of the enormity of it all comes through.' (Word Magazine)

'Walker is content to let the terrible story speak for itself ... offers a timely and harrowing reminder' (Scotland On Sunday)

brilliant (Financial Times)

Well researched and it does tell you everything you want to know about Hiroshima (The Sunday Times)

'Shockwave is a stunning book, among the most immediate and thrilling works of history I have ever read ... Walker is a filmmaker, and he brings a director's eye for pace character and colour to this book so that the reading experience is almost a visual one' (Richard Aldous, The Irish Times)

'It's an unforgettable and deeply moving portrait of one of the defining moments of the 20th century' (Hampstead & Highgate Express)

'A most gripping paperback... War story enthusiasts will be fascinated.' (Dover Express & Folkestone Herald: Terry Sutton)

'It is the human details that resonate the most...an utterly gripping work of micro-history' (Evan Griffiths, Daily Express)

'A stunning book, among the most immediate and thrilling works of history I have ever read.' (Irish Times)

'A stunning chronicle of one of the 20th-century's defining moments.' (Good Book Guide)

'An exciting narrative' (Herald)

Book Description

The countdown to Hiroshima and its horrific aftermath seen through the eyes of eyewitnesses

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Even blades of grass were driven into flesh." - Author Stephen Walker about the shockwave of the Hiroshima A-bomb

The world already knows the ending to Stephen Walker's book, SHOCKWAVE. But here, he brings the story of the atomic bomb up close and personal in a narrative based on eyewitness accounts of the Trinity test at White Sands, NM, on July 16, 1945, the dropping of "Little Boy" by the B-29 named the Enola Gay on Hiroshima On August 6, and the experiences of Japanese survivors of the blast.

The development of humankind's ultimate weapon at Los Alamos, NM, was an ultra top secret project accomplished by an army of scientists and technicians headed by J. Robert Oppenheimer and Major General Leslie Groves, many of whom, including one who was a Soviet spy, watched in stunned awe as a nuclear device was first successfully detonated at White Sands. But perhaps no experience of the event matched that of Georgia Green:

"Fifty miles north of Ground Zero, an eighteen-year-old girl was traveling in the front seat of a car next to her brother-in-law, Joe Willis. The girl's name was Georgia Green, and Joe was driving her to an early-morning music lesson in Albuquerque ... As they passed the town of Lemitar along an empty Highway 85, a flash of extraordinary brilliance suddenly filled the landscape. Georgia grabbed her brother-in-law's arm. 'What was that?' she cried."

Georgia Green, you understand, was blind.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Donald James on 26 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Shockwave is not a comprehensive history, nor a traditional 'ideas' book, but it does exactly what it sets out to do - namely to give you a detailed account of the weeks running up to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Opening with the Trinity test, it takes you into the minds of General Groves and the team that built the bomb, it takes you close to Henry Stimson and Harry Truman, the men who took the decision to drop it, and it brings to startling life the characters of the airmen who set off from Tinian Island and actually dropped that bomb.
The dramatic structure of the book is very clever and works magnificently. Walker plays with our expectations using a novelistic technique that resembles Thornton Wilder's 'Bridge of San Luis Rey'. We all know the bomb went off. We all know what happened when it did. But focusing close-up on about fifteen characters, allows him to play out the drama with intricate detail, slowing the pace down as the actual explosion approaches. He spins out the tension superbly. And his description of the catastrophe itself is as horrifying as one could imagine.
The book is also subversive. It reminds you viscerally of something historians and analysts are inclined to forget. That the making of the bomb and its successful use over Hiroshima was an exciting process. The men who did it were not evil. At the top, they may have been misguided, but further down the chain, men were often motivated by the sheer excitement of seeing whether they could make the bomb 'Little Boy' work. Walker's compelling narrative style means that you cannot help identifying with these scientists and airmen. You too become caught up in making history. This is a brilliant, enthralling and very unusual book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Terry Leahy on 15 Aug. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Walker's book is an incredible read. It spans the three week period leading up to and immediately following the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. The depth of research is amazing, yet the story is told with eloquence and is a real page turner. It unfolds in a unique way, giving a moment by moment account of the events and people directly involved, both American and Japanese - more like reading a novel than a piece of history. Maybe it occurred sixty years ago, but the account is written with such immediacy that you feel you are actually there, directly involved.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes on 9 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Shockwave" is a riveting book, made all the more powerful because the story is told from the dual perspectives of the Americans who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the citizens of Japan who suffered its effects.
The story begins on August 5, 1945 in the Shukkein Garden of Hiroshima, as two lovers part company. The narrative flashes back to the deserts of New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was detonated on July 15, 1945. In tense, tight chapters, Walker carries the tale forward day by day, week by week, as the Americans move the bomb inexorably toward Hiroshima: the plane flights out of New Mexico, the mysterious loading of materials aboard the ill-fated USS Indianapolis, the bizarre training of aircrews who had no clear idea of what they would drop on Japan, the assembly of the first bomb on Tinian, the delicate procedure by which the bomb was armed in flight.
The Americans in the book are driven by their determination to end the war quickly, their resolve strengthed by the thousands of young Americans killed and maimed in four years of brutal fighting. On the other side of the tale are the citizens of Hiroshima, who go about their lives in war-torn Japan. They have no inkling at all of the fate that awaits them, but they are determined to defend their homeland to the bitter end. With the grim certainty of tragedy, the two sides collide in one horrific moment in which tens of thousands of Japanese are instantly killed and tens of thousands more begin the long and painful process of dying.
It is impossible not to be moved by this book.
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