Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard

On August 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a small port city on Japan’s southernmost island. An estimated 74,000 people died within the first five months, and another 75,000 were injured.

Published on the seventieth anniversary of the bombing, Nagasaki takes readers from the morning of the bombing to the city today, telling the first-hand experiences of five survivors, all of whom were teenagers at the time of the devastation. Susan Southard has spent years interviewing hibakusha (“bomb-affected people”) and researching the physical, emotional, and social challenges of post-atomic life. She weaves together dramatic eyewitness accounts with searing analysis of the policies of censorship and denial that colored much of what was reported about the bombing both in the United States and Japan.

A gripping narrative of human resilience, Nagasaki will help shape public discussion and debate over one of the most controversial wartime acts in history.

Received for review.

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of history knows about Nagasaki and the devastation caused there by the atomic bombing but I hadn't really seen any sort of personal accounts of the events until I read this.

While I didn't necessarily agree with the author on most, if not all, of her assertions, including the morality of the bombings (her main theme seemed to be that Americans are evil - which is ironic considering she is an American - etc.), she clearly did a great deal of research into the topic and the lives of the people affected.  The level of detail alone made this an intriguing read.  She really delved into their lives and their challenges and discussed their concerns about life post-bombing.  Everything from shelter to medical conditions was detailed thoroughly.  The author also included many photographs of not only the damage to the city, but several graphic images of patients with burns across their bodies which are not for the faint of heart.

Overall, while the author's attitude had me gritting my teeth at several points, the information presented was genuinely interesting and the book left me with a better understanding of the aftermath of the bombings.  I wouldn't rush out to buy this, but if you are interested in the topic this is certainly a solid choice.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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