Hiroshima by John Hersey: A Book Review

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Hiroshima, written by John Hersey, is an exciting and informative first-hand account of the

dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Hiroshima tells the stories of six

survivors of the A-bomb. It is written in a journalistic style. Even though the author does not

add any of his own emotions to the book, it never gets boring.

John Hersey was born on June 17, 1914, in Tientsin, China. His parents, Roscoe and

Grace Hersey, were missionaries. He lived in Tientsin until he was ten years old and then moved

back to the United States with his parents. Hersey attended Yale and then went on to graduate

study at Cambridge. He obtained a summer job as a secretary for Sinclair Lewis in 1937 and

started working for Time magazine in the fall. Two years later he was transferred to Time's

Chungking bureau. During World War II he covered the fighting in Europe and Asia, writing

articles for Time, Life, and The New Yorker.

In the winter of 1945- 46, William Shawn, Hersey's

managing editor at The New Yorker, discussed with him an idea he had for a story about the

bombing of Hiroshima. Shawn wanted a story that would show how life had been affected for the

bomb victims. The story was to be published in August 1946, on the one-year anniversary of the

dropping of the atomic bomb (Rothman).

Hiroshima, the result of Hersey's story in The New Yorker, focuses on six inhabitants of

Hiroshima that were deeply affected by the attack on their city in August of 1945: Miss Sasaki, a

clerk; Dr. Fujii, a physician; Mrs. Nakamura, a tailor's widow; Father Kleinsorge, a German

priest; Dr. Sasaki; a young surgeon; and Reverend Tanimoto, a Methodist pastor. The book is

divided into five chapters.