Hiroshima

It’s been seventy years since the US unleashed unthinkable atrocities on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This book, written in 1946 except the last chapter (1985, 40 years after), captures the lives of six survivors, details what they were doing the day before the bomb, then at the moment of explosion, the immediate aftermath, and much much later. Horrendous details as they cope with trying to save people, their skin falling off, corpses piling up, the silence of those dying in the field, the mysterious ailments that plague them forever afterwards. These survivors are named hibakusha (“explosion-affected people”), and face various poor treatment from society – the government ignores them for years before finally giving them free health care, they are discriminated against for jobs and marriages. The aftermath chapter, written forty years later, intersperses with bits of information about further bomb-making and testing happening throughout the fifties, sixties, seventies. We have not learned any lessons. Also, humiliating treatment of one of the survivors, attempting to raise money for his church and disfigured hibakusha girls, goes on American television, “This Is Your Life” and has to confront the pilot of the Enola Gay, Robert Lewis. Overall, I’m trying to wrap my head around why Japan has not loathed and villianized the US for the immoral war crime.