I Wanna Be Literated #230

I Wanna Be Literated #230

Saturday, 17 October 2020

by John Hersey

John Hersey’s Hiroshima has been on my to-read list for over a decade. Ever since I read Howard Zinn’s recommendation of it, I made a note of it. Shame on me that it took so long. Hiroshima is written is simple terms, is only 150 pages, and packs a wallop. Everyone should read it.

Hiroshima recounts the story of six survivors of the atomic bomb. Six people of different backgrounds and prospects, all complete unprepared to deal with such a horrific catastrophe. Hersey takes us through each person’s journey, from the time the bomb dropped to their eventual death. Sometimes the stories have a happy ending (as happy as one could expect), and other times tragedy followed these individuals until their death. The writing is clear, easy to follow, very engaging, and provides all the details one would need to sympathize with these people. The sheer perseverance of all the characters, their desire to survive and help others is told in such a vibrant way that the reader is completely immersed in the events, the only thing softening the horror being the knowledge that they survived to tell their story. From the instance the bomb was dropped, these people were engulfed in a horrific nightmare where their entire city was devastated, a hundred thousand people died or were injured, people were dying all around and in need of help while there were barely any resources left. Through sheer will and luck, they persevered through the most horrific human event in history, and it’s incredible to read.

There are so many lessons to learn from this book, and I hope one of them would be to know that although the people of Hiroshima were branded “enemies” and were part of a government that willingly cooperated with Nazis, that in the end they were innocents who were following the lead of their superiors. They truly believed that they were on the side of good. Yet, I think it can be argued no one deserves to have this kind of horror bestowed upon them.

I really believe that anyone able to read should read Hiroshima, if anything to truly understand the event and suffering that came with it. It’s one thing to read about it as some statistic in a textbook and oversimplify it, and another altogether to understand the human element behind it. This is a shocking, touching, and powerful book that will stay with me for years to come.

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