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Hiroshima: A New Edition with a Final Chapter Written Forty Years after… (1985)

de John Hersey

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3,375572,846 (4.01)2
On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima 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.… (mais)
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(3.5/5) Hiroshima, a 1946 book by American journalist John Hersey, is often cited as one of the most important and influential texts on atomic warfare (on the back cover, The New York Times writes that it “stirs the conscience of humanity”, while The New Republic calls it “one of the great classics of the war”). The book chronicles, in meticulous, microhistoric detail, the experiences of six individuals who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

I do not believe that Hiroshima can be appreciated quite the same way as it was upon its original publication in 1946. The New Yorker, originally planning to serialize the book over four issues, instead dedicated an entire issue to printing it as a single article. It seems to be one of the first unvarnished depictions of the real-life consequences of atomic war, and even helped catalyze the predominance of the atompunk aesthetic of 50s and 60s science fiction. As a reader in the 21st century, however, nuclear war has never not been part of my pop culture, from the animated retelling in Barefoot Gen to the stylized post-apocalyptic hellscape of Fallout. It can simply never be as novel, as shocking to the modern reader as it was to New Yorker subscribers of the 1940s.

He was the only person making his way into the city; he met hundreds and hundreds who were fleeing, and every one of them seemed to be hurt in some way. The eyebrows of some were burned off and skin hung from their faces and hands. Others, because of pain, held their arms up as if carrying something in both hands. Some were vomiting as they walked. Many were naked or in shreds of clothing. On some undressed bodies, the burns had made patterns—of undershirt straps and suspenders and, on the skin of some women (since white repelled the heat from the bomb and dark clothes absorbed it and conducted it to the skin), the shapes of flowers they had had on their kimonos. Many, although injured themselves, supported relatives who were worse off. Almost all had their heads bowed, looked straight ahead, were silent, and showed no expression whatsoever.

What surely is Hiroshima’s greatest contribution is its unvarnished, unflinching depiction of the human cost of war. Hersey records limbs being mangled and skin sloughing off, acute burns and lingering radiation poisoning, eyes rendered blind and mouths too swollen to eat. Nothing is sanitized, nothing is sensationalized. Indeed, Hiroshima is written with blunt, almost clinical detachment towards its subjects. People are injured, sickened, and die with a brisk matter-of-factness that would not be out of place in a Wikipedia article. There are few, if any, storytelling mechanisms employed to artificially build up empathy with the men and women Hersey follows. There are no melodramatic details, it does not try to tug at the readers’ heartstrings. And it is, on the whole, almost shockingly apolitical, if its publication was not a political act in itself. But Hersey renders no explicit judgement on the decision to bomb Hiroshima, nor does he loudly champion or denounce the peace movements that sprung up in its wake. I am not sure if this is a weakness or a strength, but Hersey does his absolute utmost to leave the reader to reach their own conclusions. He does not insert himself at any point of the story, and the reader is left in the dark as to how facts were acquired, and how the subjects were chosen.

And if the book has one limitation, it is probably in its selection of subjects. While several of them suffer injuries, both in the short- and long-term, they were generally not the most badly wounded victims of the bombing. More curiously, to my eye, is the outsized role that Christian churches play in the story. Kiyoshi Tanimoto is a Methodist pastor, Wilhelm Kleinsorge is a Jesuit priest, Toshiko Sasaki goes on to become a nun. For a city where at most a tiny fraction of the population were Christians, many pages of the book are devoted to clergymen, congregations, and conversions. One cannot but help but feel that there was some selection bias on the part of Hersey, himself raised by Protestant missionaries, though no explanation is given. There is scarce to no insight into how Buddhist or Shinto faiths dealt with the bombing, nor is there anything from the perspective of anyone who was in the armed forces of Japan. Perhaps this is expecting too much, but there were a few times when I wished the omniscient narrator would turn his attention away from church affairs for a few pages. (And, while I appreciate the clarity with which it is depicted, the efforts to convert to Christianity lonely and suffering survivors feel at times opportunistic, if not predatory.)

It is still, on the whole, an excellent reminder of the cost of war, something war- and policy-makers alike should always have in their minds. Surely no survey of the literature of atomic warfare would be complete without it, and the unique perspective it offers. ( )
  pvoberstein | Dec 14, 2020 |
Very moving, straightforward book with facts, not emotion. Previously read it in high school. ( )
  bogopea | Sep 22, 2020 |
Matter-of-Fact Biographies

John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” is a short book and a quick read about the first use of an atomic bomb against civilians.

It first appeared a year after the bombing in “The New Yorker” and was shortly thereafter published in book format. When it was published, “Hiroshima” was one of the first reports about the impact of the atomic bombs on real people that Americans read. It even angered General MacArthur, who was nominally in charge of Japan’s occupation, because he tried hard to control information that was leaked about the bombings.

Hersey identifies six survivors of the bomb and recounts the first few days after the impact: a German Jesuit, a Methodist minister, a Methodist mother of three, two medical doctors, and a woman who later converts to Catholicism. Each person continues to suffer long after the bombing itself. Several of the survivors are socially related.

The writing is a very matter-of-fact of chronological facts with little editorializing. However, the writing is in no way bland considering the horrors of the bombing.

Most new versions of the book include an additional chapter that summarizes the years between 1945 and 1985. This chapter is a valuable reminder that the bombings occurred in a very recent memory. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 8, 2020 |
On re-reading this classic, I was touched even more deeply than the first time I read it many years ago. Like "All Quiet on the Western Front," this book haunts the reader and , without a speck of moralizing or histrionics, points out the horror and absurdity of war.
As I grow older and see more and more of humanity and of what the world has to offer, I struggle more and more to even conceive of any notion of how man can see war as an acceptable tool of his existence. What is so important that we should murder each other, brutalized families left grieving and plunder the landscape?
The six characters of Hiroshima rise above the question of the morality using the atomic bomb and even above the question of the morality of warring in general, to show characters for whom the simple act of living is man's most noble achievement. ( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 18, 2020 |
A harrowing book describing the life of a number of survivors of the Hiroshima bombing. Read this as it came highly recommended by the author of the excellent [b:2020 Commission|38640728|The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States A Speculative Novel|Jeffrey Lewis|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1529155352s/38640728.jpg|60253009], and have to say that it was worth reading, if only to be shocked by the descriptions of the short- and long-term effects of the atomic bomb and to reaffirm your views that atomic bombs should never again be used. ( )
  malexmave | Oct 3, 2019 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
John Herseyautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Asner, EdwardNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Guidall, GeorgeNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Pavelescu, Mihai DanTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Vásquez, Juan GabrielTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Please distinguish this "New Edition With a Final Chapter Written Forty Years After the Explosion" (1985) from John Hersey's original Work, Hiroshima (1946).
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On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima 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.

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Penguin Australia

2 edições deste livro foram publicadas por Penguin Australia.

Edições: 014118437X, 0141041862

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