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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The hurt ones were quiet; no one wept, much less screamed in pain..."
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...
Published on 16 Sept. 2006 by Mary Whipple

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13 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Defining event of the century & unimaginable horror
Despite what is listed the book is just 193 pages long which is fairly short in itself, however the book often feels as if it has lots to read with little to actually say (And I don't mean that in a complementary fashion). The book follows the lives of 6 individuals living in Hiroshima slightly prior to the bombing, immediately following it and about the other half...
Published on 21 Jan. 2006


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The hurt ones were quiet; no one wept, much less screamed in pain...", 16 Sept. 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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.

Published in the New Yorker in August, 1946, this anniversary remembrance had immediate and dramatic repercussions, perhaps because the focus on "ordinary" Japanese citizens, much like the Americans who read the article, as opposed to "the enemy," resonated with his readers. Thousands listened to four days of its reading on ABC radio, and many others bought the New Yorker to read his account. By broaching the question of the ethics of dropping such a bomb (which, ironically, some of the Japanese agree was acceptable as a normal part of the war), he also forces his readers to consider the long-term implications of atomic warfare. Dramatic, powerful, and very personal, this account of six lives changed forever is a monument to the human spirit in the face of incredible adversity. Mary Whipple
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable & very human view of a horrific event, 18 July 2002
By A Customer
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 (Cardiff, Wales.) - See all my reviews
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.

Most significant, however, is the final third of the book, which returns some 20 years after the bombing to "catch-up" with the survivors; many of whom were labelled as 'Hibukashi' (literally: 'those who survived the bomb'), and subject to massive discrimination and social stigma, largely due to the fear of the unknown quantity that was radiation exposure, but also because of a deep-rooted shame felt by many of them, shame at having survived the blast when so many of their countrymen died. Concurrent with this is a kind of socially-imposed survivors guilt which pushed many such people into hiding. It's interesting and upsetting in equal measure.

So, don't come to this book expecting a 'normal' history book: there's no analysis, very few facts and almost no presentation of the bigger picture. There is, however, a deeply moving story of human survival and endurance. It's so much like reading a novel that at times I almost forgot that the events described really happened. This may be a minor flaw - but otherwise I highly recommend this work as a valuable and unusual take on the presentation of history and the individual cost of war.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The hurt ones were quiet; no one wept, much less screamed in pain...", 7 Jan. 2007
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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.

Published in the New Yorker in August, 1946, this anniversary remembrance had immediate and dramatic repercussions, perhaps because the focus on "ordinary" Japanese citizens, much like the Americans who read the article, as opposed to "the enemy," resonated with his readers. Thousands listened to four days of its reading on ABC radio, and many others bought the New Yorker to read his account. By raising also the question of the ethics of dropping such a bomb (which some of the Japanese agree was acceptable as a normal part of the war), he also forces his readers to consider the long-term implications of atomic warfare. Dramatic, powerful, and very personal, this account of six lives, changed forever, is a monument to the human spirit in the face of incredible adversity. Mary Whipple
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible - a necessary read, 27 Jun. 2008
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This is one of the most important books of the Twentieth Century. In these times of increased nuclear proliferation, sabre-rattling and political machismo - the human cost of such weapons is often forgotten. Hersey captures the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb with a detached humanity, showing us what happened without preaching to us. The results are all the more horrifying as we are left to our own inevitable conclusion. This is a book that everybody should read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six key witnesses to the atomic bomb, 16 May 2010
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 a German Catholic missionary) of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and all six witnesses leave an indelible impression of courage and fortitude.
Hersey wrote this book originally as a series of reports for 'The New Yorker' and it retains the vividness of first-rate reporting throughout. I won't dwell on the contents further, beyond saying that they are a serious and courageous attempt at trying to convey unimaginable horrors, and serve as a dreadful reminder of what nuclear weapons did (and may yet do again).
(Two essential accounts of the atomic bombings, of equal power and importance, that come from Japanese authors can be found in Masuji Ibuse's novel 'Black Rain' and Takashi Nagai's memoir 'The Bells of Nagasaki'.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Equally shocking and stunning. Should be compulsory, 13 Dec. 2010
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 seen.

Hersey's account consists of the lives of six survivors. Five Japanese, one (curiously) German priest. Without spoiling the stories of these remarkable people, some of the acts of kindness, of human endeavor and resilience stunned me. Some of the description within this book are incredible. They are honest in their brutality, and effective with regards to attempting to give the reader some idea of what life was like in as close as there has ever been to hell on earth.

Hersey here has attempted the impossible, describing and trying to allow us to imagine what being in Hiroshima in the aftermath of the A-Bomb was like. Of course, no book could do justice to the horrors, but this is as close as it gets. Harrowing, a must read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by everyone, 9 Feb. 2010
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, it's just sort of real and human. It charts real stories of what really happened to some people that day, and how it affected them. It's written pretty simply but well, and contains some surprises too. It struck me right in my heart and my mind and again I just feel that the world would be a better place if we were all made to read it when we were 15 and 30 and 45 years old.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrors of Hiroshima, 27 Aug. 2009
A very interesting description of the hours and days following the nuclear attack on Hiroshima at the close of World War 2. The bulk of the book is more-or-less the same as the original article written by Hersey for the New Yorker Magazine, and this is the most interesting part of the book.

The stories follow a variety of people who endured the bombing and as you read you really get a feel for the characters and what they had to go through. Well told without any hint of sensationalism or hyperble, this story feels real, considerate and respectful of the ways in which the horrors of the bomb affected their lives.

This book should be read by people who fail to realise why wars are futile and harm those who may be innocent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flowers among the Ashes, 13 Jun. 2009
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There are no moral judgements in this compelling book. It is an account of how humanity coped in an inhumane situation. It is a 'beautifully' harrowing account of how six hibakusha (explosion-affected persons) dealt with a seemingly impossible situation. While Hersey's writing neither condemns nor justifies the dropping of the atomic bomb it forced me to contemplate the morality of the decision to do so. War is between soldiers and sailors. There can be no justification for children having their eyes melt down their face or nurses having their limbs blown off. The carpet bombing of cities like Dresden was just as indiscriminate and just as much an act of futility when the war was already won as Hiroshima was, but the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was conducted as a laboratory experiment. The bomb was dropped to justify the billions of dollars spent on its development, out of a desire for revenge, and to end the war quickly. Japan had already been defeated, it was not necessary. Yes, Japan was responsible for the war. Yes, Japan committed war atrocities of an unthinkable nature. Yes, Japan was guilty of war crimes. But this should not obscure the fact that the victors committed war crimes as well. The dropping of the bomb was one of them. We owe a lot to America, as does Japan, but the attempt to cover up the truth of what happened in Hiroshima by the US Administration in the aftermath of war remains a shameful episode in their history. Your view on the use of the Atomic bomb may differ from mine but that does not matter. The book is not polemical and should be read as a story of hope amid despair. Flowers among the Ashes.
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Hiroshima (Penguin Modern Classics)
Hiroshima (Penguin Modern Classics) by John Hersey (Paperback - 24 Feb. 1972)
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