When war correspondent John Hersey went to Hiroshima, Japan shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped, he surveyed the destruction and spoke with many survivors. He wrote of the experiences of six individuals in a 31,000 word article which was published in The New Yorker magazine. The six included a female office clerk, a widowed seamstress, two doctors, a Methodist minister, and a German Catholic priest. Radio stations read the article aloud, and it was published as a small book later in the year. Americans were horrified by the testimony of innocent civilians. Instead of cheering the bomb as a tool to end World War II, many felt shame.
Forty years later, the book was re-published with an additional chapter entitled “The Aftermath.” In it, Mr. Hersey wrote of what became of the six survivors in the years after the bomb. The additional information made the book much more complete. The survivors worked hard to put their lives back together, and the city was eventually rebuilt.
I appreciated that the author did not write in a sensational, tabloid style. He told the story in a simple, factual manner and let the readers draw their own conclusions. This book is invaluable for helping people of all ages understand the devastating nature of the atom bomb. If you plan to read this book, try to get a copy of the longer 1986 version, as the earlier version feels unfinished.