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on 26 June 2004
The Bells of Nagasaki documents one of the single most important events in human history, the dropping of the second atomic bomb on a Japanese city in August 1945. The ethical, environmental, and humanitarian impact of this momentus action cannot be fathomed, yet through this brief book we gain some appreciation of its consequences and ultimate meaning through the first-hand account of a Japanese physican, the author, who survived the bomb and subsequently worked to save his dying countrymen while his own body withered.
Takashi Nagai, a departmental head of the medical school of the University of Nagasaki and himself a nuclear physicist, walks us through a hellish landscape following the deployment of this new and terrific weapon. The city and people around him are instanteously erased, what has happened? The scenes detailed, the unimaginable human suffering and total desolation of a city that was moments ago thriving with life is beyond explanation, this must indeed be hell. However, Nagai immediately brings himself into reality through an understanding that he has a duty to fulfil. He and his surviving colleagues immerse themselves in aiding the sick, the mutilated, and the helpless with little regard for their own condition. Their devotion to aiding the dying is remarkable as much as his account of their grotesque injuries is harrowing.
Nagai confronts the atomic wilderness through the eyes of a Japanese "soldier" whose country has just surrendered, a nuclear physicist in awe of the perfection of the bomb, a physican treating and documenting illnesses never before witnessed, a humanitarian watching the protracted torture of his people, a widow, and devout Christian coming to terms with inexplicable suffering. Is there any future for humanity?
Ultimately he finds solace if not justification for the dropping of the bomb through his religion. Nagai remained in Nagasaki following the bomb, a violently ill man, to observe its latent effects and continue his meditations. He was increasingly a humanitarian with a message of peace and hope for the world and died in 1951 through his own injuries.
The Bells of Nagasaki should be read by all. It raises more questions than it can possibly answer. Is there hope for a humanity that develops, uses, and proliferates such a sickening device?
As Nagai states, "Grant that Nagasaki may be the last atomic wilderness in the history of the world".
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on 13 June 2009
The Bells of Nagasaki toll for all us. One man's struggle is the struggle of all of us. Takashi Nagai's story of perseverance against impossible odds is an enduring story of hope in times of despair. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki may have taken away his wife, deprived him of his health, and removed his economic well-being but it could not weaken his resolve to carry on. He left revenge in the hands of God and maintained his personal dignity and his sense of duty to his medical oath. Who does one help when there are too many people to help? How does one treat a medical problem without having the necessary knowledge of the problem? How does one rebuild a career, a life, a city out of rubble? Here are some of the dilemmas confronting Nagai in this compelling read. Nagai sought to understand and solve the problems caused by the Atomic Bomb rather than look for someone to blame. It is a harrowing story he presents to us but an inspirational one at the same time. A story whose relevance is not diminished by the passing of time.
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on 15 October 2009
A really interesting book, I read it in a few hours. It is written by someone who though not a writer is clearly an excellent communicator. The close up study of the effects of the atomic bomb are written with an objectivity that makes the subject fascinating despite the dreadful effect of the bomb.

Well worth the read and without being morbid the account stays with you.

Hugh
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on 24 January 2014
Dr Takashi NAGAI survived the Plutonium bomb dropped in Nagasaki and struggled to help his colleagues at his medical school and then general public in devastation. Reading this book helps you to understand the history of Japanese Christians in Nagasaki and their humble yet strong faith.
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on 14 June 2016
One of the best books I've ever read! We hear much about Hiroshima but little about Nagasaki and yet here is a first hand account of the terrible bomb that wiped out much of the latter city by a man of such courage and beauty of spirit that the victim is transformed into a hero and an inspiration. I think it should be a text book in every school and university in every language, in every country. It is a timeless story of courage, grace and the resilience of the human spirit and the most powerful call for peace of our age.
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