Aishe's Reviews > Hiroshima

Hiroshima by John Hersey
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May 26, 09

it was amazing
bookshelves: academics, global-studies, history, politics, technology, nuclear-holocaust, influential, militarization, u-s-military
Read in May, 2009

This classic reveals in detail the experiences of a-bomb survivors in Hiroshima and their neighbors, many of whom perished during the first forty-eight hours of the disaster. I decided to read it on Memorial Day in remembrance of the civilians that often wind up worse for wear as a result of warfare. I sincerely feel that this short book, which is based on the experiences of six people from all walks of life should be included in our American History curriculum. The important thing to note is that these accounts are not fiction, they are a testimony to the triumph of the human spirit in the face of its greatest evil.

A few things I would also like to note about the book include the attitude of the foreign missionaries whose experiences were included, which reflect a particular type of cultural imperialism and racism which was alive and well at the time. The author himself often refers to Japanese cultural norms, etc. in a way reminiscent of an old-school cultural imperialist anthropologist, which is not unexpected considering this was written in the 1940s. There is also much to be said about the luxuries of the Western world that the Westerner survivors were able to access but the locals would not. I would have liked to hear the experiences of Koreans who were in Hiroshima at the time, but apparently, they were not included in this narrative. However, the novel provides insights about class differences among survivors and the impact of these differences on individual outcomes.

I think this is a good introduction and historical/biographical account of events, but in order to fully understand the impact of the nuclear holocaust, it is necessary to include other readings and other testimonials of the atomic era. If you find this topic something that you would like to explore, I would suggest reading other literature from Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as material pertaining to the testing of nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands and in the United States. There is also extensive literature on France's tests of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific.
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