On6 August 1945, an American army plane dropped an atomic bomb plane on245,000 people of (HERSEY, P. 5). Most of the city wasdecimated while thousands of its inhabitants died. Hersey documentedthe accounts of the survivors after the bomb, and later he publisheda book to narrate their personal experiences. Therefore, theirstories gave real life encounters to match the information in themedia about the atomic bomb (HERSEY, P. 11). Despite the debateswhether the bomb changed the course of the war or that the Americanssoldiers should have never used such a destructive weapon, Herseyshows the terror and devastating impact of the bomb on the city.
InMay 1945, America formed a list of potential sites suitable astargets for atomic attacks. Eventually, they choose as the best target because the firebombing raids that the AmericanAir Force was conducting against Japanese cities did not harm it.Additionally, the city was the center of operations of the SecondGeneral Army and Fifth Division where 40,000 Japanese soldiers weresituated. The city served the military base with its main effortdirected to preventing the expected attack from the Americansoldiers. Moreover, dozens of army supply warehouses and weaponmanufacturing ultimately shatter the Japanese forces’ motivation tofight back. Furthermore, it also ensured that they could not organizemajor military protections against American soldiers set to invadeJapan thus, diminishing the Japanese battle effort even further.
JohnHersey recounted the lives of six of the survivors in the days afterthe bombing. One of those survivors documented is Kiyoshi Tanimoto,who was a Methodist reverend of a community in . Herseyrefers to him as a “cautious, thoughtful man," who sent hisrelatives to the countryside (HERSEY, P. 24). Tanimoto portrays alegendary character as he helps other survivors in the city.He helps the injured victims move to safety as fire incinerates thecity. Theauthor indicates, “asMr.Tanimoto began, he stared across the field, where the countless deadlay near to those who were still alive, and he turned awaywithout concluding his sentence, annoyed with himself” (HERSEY,P. 50). Thestatement shows that despitethe awful sights he witnessed, he never lost his polite behavior.There were scores of people who required assistance, but he could notmanage to help them all. Nonetheless, he worked tirelessly for hoursto help carry the injured, arrange people in groups to assist eachother, take water to the wounded, and rescue survivors from the riverby shipping them to higher grounds. Furthermore,Tanimoto tried to get others to help alleviate the misery of thesituation. For example, he attempted to get more medicalprofessionals to help the wounded because there is nothing much thepriest could do without medical expertise. Later in years followingthe bomb, Tanimotobecame a dedicated peace campaigner who toured America appearing ontelevision and giving speeches.
Theauthor`s purpose in telling so many individual anecdotes about lifebefore the bomb was to inform the public of the terrible devastationsthe atomic bomb brought to the victims. The individuals discussed inthe book are an illustration of how the catastrophic bomb alteredlife in . As Hersey notes, “the Japanese were unwilling tocall those people ‘survivors,’ because if they focused too muchon the living, it might suggest some offense to the sacred dead”(HERSEY, P. 92). Therefore, the book is a breakthrough connecting theprevailing opinions about nuclear weapons and literary innovation dueto the compassionate manner in which Hersey narrates the experiencesof the six survivors.
Theauthor recounts the terrible effects of radiation illnesses using thesix main characters in the book. For instance, Miss Sasaki and FatherKleinsorge suffered from non-healing wounds while Mrs. Nakamura andher family no longer had hair on their heads, suffered from fever,and diarrhea in varying degrees of severity. Dr. Sasaki, Mr.Tanimoto, and Father Kleinsorge lacked the energy and physicalstrength to engage in various rebuilding activities (HERSEY, P. 41).On the other hand, Miss Sasaki suffered from depression that made itimpossible for her wounds to healing. Theradiation also caused fever and general malaise, which made thesurvivors too weak to undertake any strenuous activities. Othersurvivors were bleeding into the skin, had hemorrhagicmanifestations, and swelling of throat and mouth. Bleeding startedfrom the gum, and for the victims who were more severely injured, thebleeding was evident from every possible source.
Thenagain, medical and rescue efforts had little significance to thesurvivors. The tragedy became worse due to lack of health careprofessionals because 1,654 nurses were either dead or severelyinjured that they could not offer any assistance (HERSEY, P. 32).Even if many injured people could have survived the explosion, theydid not have anyone give them the proper treatment they required. Onthe other hand, the health care providers did not have any access tomedical centers, supplies, and other necessary resources. Besides,they lacked the necessary medical experience because they had notwitnessed radiation illnesses before, which added to the continuedsuffering of the survivors. Nevertheless, the survivors struggled torestore their homes, provide for their families, and attempted tocope with the events that took place during the bombing (HERSEY, P.105).
Inconclusion, the atomic bombing was a revelation of theadverse impacts of war. After the bombs had dropped, the survivorsendured the dreadful consequences while still helping each other getthrough it. The anguish of thousands of people who suffered frominjuries has been regularly documented. Accordingly, Hersey’s bookillustrates the aftermath of the attack and its effect on the livesof some survivors. The author using the six survivors clearlydemonstrates the terrible effects and suffering caused by thebombing. He explains the side effects of radiation illnesses such asfever, bleeding, diarrhea, physical weakness, and loss of hair.Nonetheless, the world came out strongly later to condemn suchweapons of mass destruction, which is a small but significant steptowards global peace, while the survivors tried to rebuild theirlives and move on from the event despite the devastations theyencountered.
Hersey,John. .New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Print.