History · Non-Fiction

Hiroshima by John Hersey

What is it about?

At quarter past eight on the morning of the 6th August 1945 America dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, with a population of around 245,000; in the following hours and days and weeks, nearly half of that number would die. John Hersey, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist writing in 1946, tells the story of the apocalyptic tragedy through the eyes of six civilians from various walks of life (a young girl working as an office clerk, a German Jesuit missionary, a doctor who owned his own private hospital, a young surgeon at the Red Cross hospital, a Japanese Methodist priest, and a widowed seamstress with her three young children) as we follow them through the ruins of their city in their heartbreaking struggle for survival. Hersey focusses on themes of humanity, religion and the innocence of children throughout.

Is it any good?

Hersey writes in such a way that the reader can picture the graphic and grotesque atrocities which he describes with a brutal clarity. He writes with the sort of dettached coolness required of a journalist but this somehow adds to the heart and humanity of the piece. He deals with the stories of these people with harsh precision, telling the exact stories and accounts of war that need to be heard; those of the average person. I liked the way he interweaved the stories of the six people almost effortlessly and in a way that does not confuse the writer. A stellar example of journalism at its very best, and something that I believe everyone should read.

Rating: 10/10

How long did it take to read: two days

For fans of: The World at War, the history channel, the New Yorker, brutal honesty

 This book tastes like: ashes

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