John Hersey
Contributed by Fernande Huls
John Hersey
Year Published
War Story
About the Title

Hiroshima is a non-fiction book written by John Hersey and published by The New Yorker on August 31 in 1946, a year after the atomic bomb was dropped by the American Army in Hiroshima, Japan during World War II.

Hersey visited Japan from 1945-1946 to write about the devastating aftermath of the bombing, as well as the stories of the people who survived it. As one of the first Western journalists to see the ruins of Hiroshima after the bombing, Hersey went into detail about the bomb’s horrific, effects such as melted body parts and full disintegration of bodies. The book describes the stories of six survivors who were in or near the attack and reported their memories and encounters before and after the bomb.

Hiroshima was first published as a New Yorker article. The editors at the publishing company dedicated almost an entire edition for Hersey’s story, as it was so important. Soon after that, the article was published as a book.

The book first tells the stories of the six survivors, detailing the individual accounts before the bombings for each person, their perception of the bombing, what they experienced and witnessed straight after the bomb struck, and the troubles they faced days after. It comes to a very saddening end with an update one year after the bombing, telling readers the state and place in life the survivors were in, making readers realize how much this bombing impacted people’s lives.

"The Aftermath" is a chapter added forty years after the initial publication in The New Yorker, after Hersey returned to Japan to learn what had become of the survivors. The chapter describes the struggles of the survivors against the government and their treatment to Hibakusha (explosion-affected people) as well as the struggles of being rejected by society due to being a Hibakusha. It also goes into detail on where they are in life, with two of the six survivors no longer alive, and how they managed to turn their lives around.

Without Hiroshima, it would not be as clear how terrible this event was for hundreds of thousands of people. This book allowed people to understand the depth of the effects of the bombings through horrific real life accounts.

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