Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Hiroshima (Hersey)

Title: Hiroshima
Author: John Hersey
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 152
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library
Summary (from the back of the book): On August 6, 1945, Hiroshimas was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. This book, John Hersey's journalistic masterpiece, tells what happened on that day. Told through the memories of survivors, this timeless, powerful and compassionate document has become a classic "that stirs the conscience of humanity" (The New York Times).

Almost four decades after the original publication of this celebrated book John Hersey went back to Hiroshima in search of the people whose stories he had told. His account of what he discovered about them is now the eloquent and moving final chapter of Hiroshima.

Review: I have meant to read this book for decades. I recommend it to students all the time even though I've never read it myself! I am so glad that I finally read it. This book is only 152 pages, but it is dense. There is no flowery language, no soft moments of description; it is all-out experience, destruction, and action.

The book follows six survivors of the bombing: Miss Sasaki (a clerk); Dr. Fujii (who runs a private hospital); Mrs. Nakamura (a tailor's widow); Father Kleinsorge (a German priest); dr. Sasaki (surgeon); and Reverand Tanimoto (pastor of a Methodist church). The book follows their every move from just before the bomb hit at 8:15am until forty years after the bombing. The details are astonishing! What they were wearing, what they saw, who they helped, what happened to their family members, how the city looked, how they felt and more. The details are amazing! At times it was a bit overwhelming.



I taught World History for 14 years and the bombing of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) was always one of the topics that was most interesting to both me and my students. We talked a lot about how atom bombs worked, we visited a 1950s bomb shelter, how many the US and Soviets had and how much destruction they could cause. However, I now realize that I had no idea the detail of the destruction to the people (those who survived in particular). I really wish I had read this book years ago so that I could have really impressed upon my students how people were affected.
Have you read this book? What were your impressions?

5 comments:

Stephanie said...

Such a powerful book!

Marie said...

History was always my favorite subject and I always found this topic to be interesting too.

Great review, I'll be checking this book out!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Stephanie--Powerful is a really good word for this book. So chalk full of information too

Marie--I am getting to like historical fiction more and more the older I get. Maybe it's the learning that goes along with the enjoyment of reading

Shelley (Book Clutter) said...

I remember finding this book very powerful, but I can tell I have forgotten many details even though it's only been a few years since I read it. Maybe it's time for a reread.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Shelley--I can see it would be easy to forget the details of this book as it is SO full of details. However, the overall impression of devastation will surely stay with me for a very long time