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The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back Unknown Binding – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Unabridged edition (29 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400165636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400165636
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 18.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,353,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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“Heart-stopping. Pellegrino dissects the complex political and military strategies that went into the atomic detonations and the untold suffering heaped on countless Japanese civilians, weaving all of the book’s many elements into a wise, informed protest against any further use of these terrible weapons.”--"Publishers Weekly," Starred Review “Sober and authoritative. . . . A firm, compelling synthesis of earlier memoirs and archival material, as well as of the author’s own interviews and research. This is gleaming, popular wartime history, John Hersey infused with Richard Preston and a fleck of Michael Crichton.”--Dwight Garner, "The New York Times" “The tragedies and atrocities of World War II now belong to history, while Hiroshima is still part of our world, our continuing present, maybe our dreaded future. "The Last Train from Hiroshima" reminds us why this is so. Charles Pellegrino's account of what it was actually --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MrB on 10 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
Quite extraordinary. The incredibly detailed scientific explanations of the causes and devastating effects of the nuclear explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki (milli-second by milli-second), juxtaposed with the heart-rending stories of the victims of both tragedies, make this an absolute must-read for anyone interested in this globally significant event.
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Format: Unknown Binding Verified Purchase
Very harrowing .
I ordered the audio version by mistake but it didn't make any difference.
Extremely informative and graphic descriptions of the aftermath of the bombs.
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Format: Unknown Binding Verified Purchase
probably ok. I read it wrong and thouhgt it was a written book so that was my mistake!
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Amazon.com: 81 reviews
72 of 87 people found the following review helpful
Extraordinary claims and fabrications. 6 Jun. 2010
By John Coster-Mullen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"I will say again, no person and no facts in this book were fabricated by me." -Charles Pellegrino

Oh really? Let's examine some specifics.

Criticism of Mr. Pellegrino's book came immediately after publication not only from members of the 509th, but from nuclear scientists and some very well-respected historians all of whom questioned many of the claims made in his book.

When writing about history, one of the first things an author should do is perform simple, basic checking of easily verifiable facts. Inexplicably, Mr. Pellegrino seemed so willing and eager to push this aside in his effort to rewrite history in a most sensationalistic manner. His so-called "knowledge" of the non-existent radiation accident on Tinian involving the Little Boy apparently began when he was back at Brookhaven, long before Joseph Fuoco dovetailed his equally fictitious accounts into that of Mr. Pellegrino's. If it wasn't so serious, his description of how Little Boy functioned is almost laughable along with his account of Luis Alvarez installing extra initiators in that weapon or for that matter Alvarez having anything whatsoever to do with the Little Boy assembly. While on Tinian, Alvarez was in charge of the team that measured bomb yield. While Mr. Pellegrino offers no historical evidence whatsoever in the form of footnotes to back these extraordinary claims, there is overwhelming documentary evidence available to refute them, including a 2010 Los Alamos Press Release.

With regard to bomb yields, once again Mr. Pellegrino hasn't done his homework. He claims that Little Boy had a "mysteriously low, 10 - 12.5 kiloton yield." The latest and most authoritative yield calculation is contained in the extensive DS02 (Dosimetry System 2002) report issued in 2002 by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF). This dosimetry reassessment was mandated and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW). It is considered by many to be the current "Gold Standard" for radiation studies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This report can be found on the Internet in just a few minutes.

According to DS02, the current best yield estimates are 16 kilotons for the Little Boy used at Hiroshima and 21 kilotons for the Fat Man used at Nagasaki. This means the yield of the Little Boy was approximately 75% that of the Fat Man; a far cry from the 1/3 claimed by Mr. Pellegrino and most certainly not a dud.

Pellegrino mentions the "shadow people" on numerous occasions. Here he merely repeats the old myth that these people had been vaporized by the intense heat produced when the Little Boy exploded over Hiroshima and all that remained were their shadows burned into stone, asphalt, and concrete. Again, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. It is quite simply a physical impossibility!

As part of the Joint U.S.-Japan Working Group, George Kerr was one of the authors of the DS02 mentioned previously. Kerr dispels this popular myth, "The thermal radiation pulses from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were very short in duration. The pulses caused horrific burns to the skin but they did not transfer sufficient energy to the body to vaporize a person." He continued, "The thermal radiation pulses were followed by the blast waves from the bombs. The blast wave probably displaced the bodies of people who produced the shadows that are often shown on the asphalt surface of a bridge so that it appeared the bodies may have been vaporized.... or they were probably removed for burial before the pictures were taken."

As contained in the 509th Press Release (available on the Internet), which was given as an exclusive to Bill Broad who first broke this story in The New York Times, "Mr. Pellegrino reserved the final insult for the end of his book. On the very last page, he quotes from an alleged 1999 letter from Tibbets to Nagasaki strike aircraft Flight Engineer John Kuharek and "cited by J.C Muller [me] at the 2005 Tinian Symposium." Pellegrino states that in this letter "Tibbets expressed his belief that after Hiroshima and the massive firebombings elsewhere, Japan was so defeated and so close to surrender that Sweeney's bomb had become redundant if not completely irrelevant, and never needed to be dropped in the first place." The letter in question quoted at this 2005 Tinian Symposium was in fact actually written in 1995 by Tibbets to historian John Coster-Mullen. This erroneous statement by Tibbets does not appear anywhere in this letter and is another complete fabrication."

This is even more troubling. Mr. Pellegrino also states on that last page 345 that Tibbets wrote in that letter about Sweeney's "indecisiveness and a failure to command." The problem here is that I wrote that as part of my speech presented during the 2005 Tinian Symposium speech. Those are my words, not Tibbets', and were lifted directly from my speech without attribution or permission by me to Mr. Pellegrino.

As Mr. Pellegrino I'm certain is fully aware, this is not "Fair Use" as defined by the US Copyright office since his book is a commercial, for-profit work and does not therefore fall under their strict definitions for "Fair Use." Not only does he fabricate statements from Tibbets along with getting the date, my name, and who the letter was written to wrong, it can be argued Mr. Pellegrino also violated US Copyright law.

It doesn't stop there. Instead of conducting his own research, Mr. Pellegrino's descriptions of the Nagasaki mission were lifted almost verbatim from the War's End book written by Charles Sweeney. Pick up a copy of both books at any library and compare them. As an example, on page 182 of Sweeney's book he wrote, "I went over to the intelligence hut. Reconnaissance photographs were providing a better view of the destruction on the ground as some of the smoke cleared. Sixty percent of Hiroshima had been laid to waste. Preliminary casualty estimates were 80,000 killed or seriously wounded." Mr. Pellegrino wrote on page 82, "Charles Sweeney was called to the Intelligence hut. According to Bad Penny's [non-existent]reconnaissance photographs, Hiroshima's activities as an industrial base had ceased. Preliminary casualty estimates were approaching 100,000 people." Note the inflated casualty figure in Mr. Pellegrino's version.

As to the accuracy of Sweeney's self-serving autobiography, Enola Gay bombardier Tom Ferebee told me in 1998, "Tibbets got through the first 60 pages of the book and was too disgusted to go any further." Ferebee was also present during a car ride in Wendover with Sweeney and Tibbets when "Paul turned around and let him have it" for a full half-hour. Ferebee added, "He just sat there and took it." Numerous 509th vets intimately familiar with what transpired told me Sweeney's book more properly belonged in the fiction category. Keep in mind Tibbets wasn't simply the Enola Gay pilot; he was commander of the 1,800 member 509th and the person who, not only hired Sweeney, but assigned him to that mission.

According to the Associated Press, the atomic bombing of Japan was the "top news story of the 20th century." Right from the beginning, newspapers around the world scrambled for every tidbit of information about this story including the names, service records, hometowns, etc. of everyone on those flights. In addition, there are plenty of books and Internet resources available that list all those names. It would have been incredibly easy for Mr. Pellegrino, or a research assistant, to verify the stories of Joseph Fuoco (none of which turned out to be true), he simply chose not to do so. To put it bluntly, Mr. Pellegrino believed Joseph Fuoco because he desperately wanted to believe his stories since they fit perfectly into Mr. Pellegrino's anti-war (according to his literary agent) book. He didn't simply let his guard down; he never had it up in the first place.

The book flap states "Almost everything we know about the bombing turns out to be wrong." Actually, it's so many of Mr. Pellegrino's descriptions that turn out to be wrong.

As I stated in another posting, if Mr. Pellegrino can't bother to sweat the small stuff, what about all those detailed, elaborate descriptions of the survivor's stories?

I could go on, but in short, this book makes some very extraordinary claims that are simply not true. As the old saying goes, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Sadly, absolutely none of that extraordinary proof is contained in this book. If it had, perhaps this book might have been more credible.

John Coster-Mullen is the author of Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man, an Honorary Member of the 509th, and the subject of a lengthy article in the 12/15/08 issue of The New Yorker.
60 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Factual Error 6 Feb. 2010
By M. Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book makes for very compelling reading. One, but certainly not the only, reason I found it so compelling was the precise technical detail about the bombs and what happened in the fractions of a second after they exploded. However, the first technical detail I checked was wrong. On page 4 it suggests that the Hiroshima bomb contained 1.2 lbs of U-235 and that this represents a volume of about two teaspoons. The Hiroshima bomb contained 141 lbs of 80% pure U-235 (~112 lbs of U-235 with the balance U-238 and other isotopes). This wide misstatement of fact causes me to question at least the technical details in the rest of the book.
159 of 204 people found the following review helpful
What's Gone Wrong With Book Reviewers? 21 Feb. 2010
By Thomas J. Frieling - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just read the New York Times article about the deception Mr. Pelligrino fell for--a Mr. Fuoco claiming to have flown on the bombing run on Hiroshima and also related a story about a pre-flight accident with the bomb that killed a scientist and rendered the bomb a "dud". (Some dud--70,000 people killed when it hit.)

All of this not true.

My problem here is not so much that Mr. Pelligrino wrote a bad book--anyone can do that. Or that the errors in the book amount to historical mal-practice which is deplorable as this book will be held by many libraries for many years, perhaps duping many more readers down the years.

My problem is the fact that this book got positive reviews in the mainstream press (including the NYT). I have to ask--what has gone wrong with the process of reviewing books? And backing up one step--what's gone wrong with the publishing industry that allows error-riddled books to pass muster? Doesn't the publishing industry employ copy editors and fact-checkers any more?

And who gets selected to review books like this--reviewers who obviously aren't qualified to pass judgemnet on the book's quality or accuracy? Where are the experts who could vouch for a book's accuracy--why aren't they being sought out to review books about which they are recognized subject experts? It should be a scandal.

The same thing happened last summer with the publication of Craig Nelson's book Rocket Men. It got glowing reviews in the mainstream press and he even appeared as part of a panel discussion at a NASA History Office conference celebrating the fourtieth anniversary of Apollo 11. Yet his book is full of errors of fact and, perhaps, worse, very questionable assertions (e.g.; that the Gemini Program was of limited success and it should have been more integrated into the Apollo Progarm---both ludicrous assertions) both of which betray his lack of understanding of his subject.

He may have written some well crafted prose, but the demands of a good history require the author get the facts correct first and foremost.

Both of these books failed that elemental test and still got rave reviews. That's the real disgrace.

Thomas J. Frieling
University of Georgia Libraries
tfrielin@uga.edu
33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Very Disappointed 19 Mar. 2010
By Hope for the Best - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book today after being on a wait list at the library for some time. I was aware of some of the controversy regarding the author's sources but I didn't realize the extent of his inaccuracies and seeming fraud until I went to write a somewhat positive review here. The most glaring thing I learned from reading reviews here and checking the NYT's article is that the most parts of the book I found most significant are those most in question by the publisher. I was shocked to learn Joseph Fuoco, who is mentioned and quoted repeatedly, never was a part of the Hiroshima bombing. On top of that, the shocking revelation that the Hiroshima bomb was considered a "dud" by scientists due to an accidental reaction on Tinian that supposedly killed a scientist, is simply not true. It never happened. I had never read anywhere of such an incident and believed it to be a stunning, unknown fact that the author had uncovered through research. It surprised me so much I shared the information with friends and my wife. My wife was smart enough to question the story. I did not and that alone causes me to feel I wasted my time reading this book and very glad I didn't purchase it. But as someone commented, the shame of this is that the book will sit on library shelves and be read by people who never heard of this controversy. In fact, it's not a controversy at all because it is clear that the incident never took place and everything Fuoco told the author was untrue. These are significant sections of the book. Now I know also that another powerful part of the book, the suicide of a Jesuit priest, never happened and the priest never even existed. These are not minor errors. They are parts of the book that have a tremendous impact on the reader. As a result, everything in Pellegrino's book is called into question and nothing can be relied on as true. Simply correcting sections of the text resolves very little when the basic veracity of the author is questionable. While writing the book, did not Pellegino himself wonder why some of his "facts" seemed so shocking and never before heard of? It's all pretty astonishing and insulting to historians who devote a lot of hard work to verifying what they write. It is also an insult to the reader and especially to those who bought this book. However, all blame isn't Pellegrino's as the publisher is to be faulted for putting this mess into print. Update:

It has been pointed out by a fellow reviewer that Mr. Pellegrino most likely wrote this book with Hollywood in mind. A check of the Internet Movie Database reveals a strong connection between Pellegrino and James Cameron on past projects and Cameron has written introductions to several of the author's books. It isn't clear if Cameron will proceed with a planned motion picture interpretation of this book, but the blatant fiction aside, an Avatar style 3D extravaganza depicting the horror of the atom bomb attacks on Japan would be simply a repugnant exploitation of a profound moment in history. The historical liberties taken in the film Titanic would most likely be a preview of things to come. At any rate, Pellegrino's suspect credentials and his association with Hollywood explains much of the misinformation in Last Train From Hiroshima.
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Pellegrino: "I was duped" 20 Feb. 2010
By Kenneth Cooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This New York Times article on the book discusses a section of the book (the technical details of the mission) that came from an interview with a crew member who was not a crew member (a liar):

[...]

Charles Pellegrino says he will rewrite the book for future editions. He ought to provide a copy of the rewritten edition to everyone who has purchased this book so far .. gratis.

I'm rating this a 3. Not trying to shoot down the book, just tired of reading so much untruth on the subject. There's been a lot of propaganda released over the years regarding the mission and for everybody it's been getting ever harder to glean the truth. This book is now an integral part of that problem.
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