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Topic: Hiroshima by John Hersey, Read Together/Discussion Invitation

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Subject: Hiroshima by John Hersey, Read Together/Discussion Invitation
Date Posted: 2/19/2009 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Hi Everyone,

Janelle and I discovered we have a couple of the same books on our TBR and have decided to read them together and have an informal discussion. If anyone else would like to read the book with us for discussion or if you have already read it, we would love to have you join us.

We plan to start discussing Hiroshima around March 6th.

The other book we plan to discuss is The March by E. L. Doctorow with a tentative discussion date of March 16. That thread will be in the Historical Fiction forum.

Sheila

 

Date Posted: 2/19/2009 3:49 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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Hiroshima is a shorty, so it should be a quick read. ;-) Do please join us! It'll either be really fun or really depressing, LOL. Of course, there aren't many cheerful topics when one is reading history, are there?

Date Posted: 2/20/2009 11:04 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Yes, history is often not a cheerful subject. In the case of Hiroshima, we are looking at survivors (good) and the actual event (horrific).

Janelle, my edition is a newer one with a final chapter written 40 years after the explosion. Does your book have this final chapter also?

 

 

Date Posted: 2/20/2009 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I think so. (Too lazy to run downstairs and check.)

Date Posted: 3/6/2009 5:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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A little about the book:

An article called "Hiroshima" written by John Hersey was published in The New Yorker magazine in August 1946, a year after World War II ended. The article was based on interviews with atomic bomb survivors and tells their experiences the morning of the blast and for the next few days and weeks. It was a calm and accurate account of survival in the first city to be destroyed by a single weapon.

There were many remarkable things about the "Hiroshoma" article. Just a few:

  • "Hiroshima" took over the entire issue of the The New Yorker, there were no articles or cartoons.
  • The issue caused a tremendous effect, and sold out within hours.
  • Many magazines and newspapers commented on the article.
  • The full text was read on the radio in the U.S. and other countries.
  • The Book-of-the-Month club sent a free copy in book form to all its members.

"Hiroshima" was quickly published as a book, and remains in print today.

 

Date Posted: 3/6/2009 5:49 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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This was such an interesting book to read. It evoked a lot of empathy in me for the people of Hiroshima. 100,000 dead . . . that is just staggering. But, how many would have died if the war had continued?

Hersey did not state his opinion of the bombing of Hiroshima. The reader is left to draw their own conclusions.

I liked the updated last chapter and learning how the survivors had fared over the years.

Date Posted: 3/7/2009 3:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I thought it was interesting to read a contemporary account of the event, without all the intervening years' worth of atomic history we've experienced since then. Even the epilogue writen years later kept the very matter-of-fact, dispassionate tone.

On the other hand, since I'm used to reading more recently-written popular history with a little more pizzazz and drama on the author's part, I found this account a little too dispassionate. Hersey presented a microcosm of the event, and that left me wanting to read a larger scenario of the whole thing and hear more about some of the other people affected. The six he chose, although all from different backgrounds, all seemed to be acquainted with each other and from the same area.

Something that surprised me was that they re-built the entire city on the contaminated ruins...was the radiation just not as powerful with that first bomb? It seems like that whole city would have been contaminated beyond safe levels for a long time.

I've got a couple more thoughts, but I'll share them later when I have a little more time. :-)

 

Date Posted: 3/8/2009 4:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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I agree Janelle. It is obvious that this was microcosm (good choice of words!) of the event and I also was left wanting more info.

Rebuilding on the contaminated site surprised me also.

I think that this book was a real testament to the human spirit.