The year is 1939, and Grace Bennett is finally able to leave the small community she grew up in, and move to the city of London with her friend Viv. They live with an old family friend, and look for jobs. Grace finds work at the Primrose Hill bookshop. She hasn’t been much of a reader up to that point, but as time goes by, she begins to catch the joy of books. Mr. Evans, the elderly shop owner, is grumpy at first, but soon he and Grace are re-organizing the shop and business begins to increase.
But things are about to change drastically. Grace is shocked when Hitler starts bombing the city of London.
You may have read “Hiroshima” by John Hersey, the 1946 book about the horrors of the atomic bombing of Japan at the end of World War II. You may have read it because it was an assignment in history class, or because you just wanted to know what surviving an atomic bomb was like. I myself have read it twice, once as a high school student, and again as an adult. The eyewitness accounts in the book are unforgettable.
But the book “Hiroshima” was published only with great difficulty. The United States government was pleased with itself for getting Japan to surrender. The general public really didn’t understand how the atomic bomb worked, and they had never heard of radiation poisoning. All they knew was that our military had dropped some super-bombs on two cities – Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and the enemy had surrendered.
But John Hersey, a war correspondent, saw the terrible devastation. He believed that the American people needed to know the truth: our country had killed about 135,000 people with its atomic bombs, most of them innocent civilians. To make it even worse, thousands suffered for weeks or months with radiation poisoning before dying.
John asked his bosses at The New Yorkermagazine if he could do a feature story on the bombing of Hiroshima. They were agreeable, but the government and the military required all news stories about the atomic bomb to be okayed by them before it could be run in a newspaper or magazine. They strictly controlled what the media could say about our attack on Hiroshima. It took John Hersey about a year to be able to publish his article, which was soon followed by the book.