Fallout – by Lesley M.M. Blume (2020)

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 Yorker magazine 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.

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Sky: A True Story Of Courage During World War II – by Hanneke Ippisch (1996)

Childhood memories, especially war-time ones, have a way of haunting people until they write them down. At the beginning of the book, the author writes:

“I am now seventy, and I cannot find the excuses to postpone this any longer. At least the grandchildren and our young friends will know what happened so many years ago, and perhaps they will learn from it and understand how life was when I was a child, as they are now. So here it is: for the grandchildren, Annie and Erika, little Natalie and Olivia Rose, and for our friends Shea and Kwaku.”

Hanneke may have written it initially for her grandkids, but it reached so many more people than her family and friends. Simon & Schuster published it in 1996, and in 2007 Scholastic Books re-published it. As there are no graphic torture scenes included in the book, it is a good way to introduce kids and teens to World War II, as seen through the eyes of a 15-year-old.

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