Hiroshima is a true story about the lives of survivors after the dropping of the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. It was written by John Hersey, who was born in China to missionaries, but spent most of his life in the United States. As a Journalist during World War II, he was assigned to cover China and Japan, when someone asked him write about the effects of the atomic bomb on the people in Japan. It was from that idea that he ended up writing the now famous book, Hiroshima.
Hiroshima discusses the individual lives of six specific survivors of the atomic bomb. It does not go into the exact details or the facts about the bombing, rather it talks more about how lives were change because of the atomic bomb. The book goes in depth into the lives of a regular clerk, a doctor, a widow with children, a missionary priest, a young surgeon and a Methodist pastor.
The author, John Hersey, had a very informative, yet statistical style of writing this book. He broke the book into sections, with each individual’s story being separate section. They never really intermixed with the other stories, so there were six different beginnings and six different endings. I found this confusing, since I was trying to keep the characters’ stories separate from one another, although the Japanese names made this very difficult for me.
Hiroshima is written basically in a third person point of view. This is evident, because all of the stories are about a person or thing other than the author, and it uses pronouns, such as he and she, to describe the characters. This novel is written at a very realistic level, since it is a true story about historical events. The fact that it is a true story makes it all the more meaningful, rather than if the author were to use made up characters who survived the bomb. The writer sticks to this form throughout the book as he describes each survivor’s life.
I believe the major theme of Hiroshima was survival. The characters of this book were no more special than anyone else, yet they made it out alive after disaster struck. It teaches you that life is unpredictable and should be cherished. Throughout what I’ve learned so far in history, the atomic bomb being dropped has always been considered a victory to America. This book makes us take a second look at that view point and see that these were average people just trying to make it through each day, yet the ones in this novel were the ones who were lucky enough to survive.
I believe Hiroshima is a book that can teach everyone some valuable lessons about life. The reader learns that life is valuable and should be lived to the fullest, because we never know when it might be changed forever. We also learn that what one sees as a victory might be a permanent devastation to another. I personally did not enjoy Hiroshima, although my opinion is biased, because I don’t enjoy reading much unless the book keeps you in suspense the whole time which I did not feel this book did. However, I would recommend this book to someone, like my dad for instance, who loves history and would enjoy reading something from another viewpoint, different from the narrowminded American view on the subject of Hiroshima. Hiroshima is a good book that can teach many lessons, but to enjoy its content, the reader needs to like history and be willing to learn from a new perspective.
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