Shelly - The Illustrated Librarian -'s Reviews > Barefoot Gen, Volume One: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima

Barefoot Gen, Volume One by Keiji Nakazawa
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it was amazing
bookshelves: japanese, manga, abandonment, hiroshima, historical-fiction, war, wwii, survival, starvation
Recommended for: Everyone -- learn history!

Keiji Nakazawa, the author, is a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima. I saw him in the HBO documentary film, White Light / Black Rain. I'd heard of Barefoot Gen before, but had never read it. After listening to Nakazawa-san speak of his experience, I couldn't wait to read this manga.

The book did not disappoint. I expected to be, and I was, deeply moved by the plight of the victims of the bomb. The characters we meet are well-formed--representing groups of people (fanatical patriots, brainwashed citizens, outspoken folks who want to protest the war...) without being two-dimensional.

What I did not expect was the background of how people treated each other at that time. Gen's father does not think the was is righteous. After making a couple of comments to that effect, he is harassed by his neighbors as a traitor. The initial disagreements turn into harassment of the family members, the father's arrest, and the eldest son volunteering for the war to redeem his family's honor.

Poverty, starvation, separation of families, were the norm for life in Hiroshima before the bomb. They were victims of the war even before Little Boy fell.

It is disturbing reading, but I'm anxious to read the next books in the series.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 13, 2009 – Finished Reading
January 15, 2009 – Shelved
January 15, 2009 – Shelved as: japanese
January 15, 2009 – Shelved as: manga
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: abandonment
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: hiroshima
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: war
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: wwii
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: survival
March 11, 2014 – Shelved as: starvation

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