Hiroshima By John Hersey: A Book Review

1695 words - 7 pages

Hiroshima, written by John Hersey, is an exciting and informative first-hand account of thedropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Hiroshima tells the stories of sixsurvivors of the A-bomb. It is written in a journalistic style. Even though the author does notadd 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 andGrace Hersey, were missionaries. He lived in Tientsin until he was ten years old and then movedback to the United States with his parents. Hersey attended Yale and then went on to graduatestudy at Cambridge. He obtained a summer job as a secretary for Sinclair Lewis in ...view middle of the document...

Chapter three covers the time from early evening on the day of the bombing to nine dayslater. Chapter four discusses the main characters' lives form twelve days after the bomb fell to ayear later. The final chapter tells what happened to the characters from one year after thebombing to forty years later. It also discusses the way the city of Hiroshima rebuilt itself and howit responded over time to being the first city ever to be attacked with a nuclear bomb.Of the six characters discussed in Hiroshima, one character, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge,seems to stand out. Father Kleinsorge is a thirty-eight year-old German missionary priest with theSociety of Jesus; he loves the Japanese people and is committed to his work in Hiroshima.Father Kleinsorge conducts mass at six thirty the morning of the bombing and then sits atbreakfast with the other priests until they hear the all-clear at eight o'clock. He retires to hisroom to read in his underwear. After the bomb hits, he ends up in the vegetable garden, bleedingfrom small cuts. He helps dig out those nearby who are buried under collapsed buildings. WhenFather Kleinsorge arrives at Asano Park, he begins giving water to the wounded and works withRev. Tanimoto to assist people. After a couple of days, he is evacuated.Father Kleinsorge has perhaps the worst sickness of the six main characters. He walksaround Hiroshima and performs errands twelve days after the bombing and by evening isexhausted. His wounds then open wider and become inflamed. After a couple weeks of faintnessand fever, his colleagues send him to the Catholic International Hospital in Tokyo. He remainsthere for over three months, suffering high fevers, a low white blood cell count, and anemia. Heis able to return to his work, but due to the combination of his radiation exposure and his tirelesswork ethic on behalf of others, Father Kleinsorge faces a difficult life of repeated hospital stays.Much to the concern of his colleagues, he slows down only when he collapses. It seems to beworth it, though, as his missionary work reaps a harvest of a few hundred devoted converts.Father Kleinsorge is so committed to his work in Japan and to the Japanese people thatafter a few years he applies for and gains Japanese citizenship. He adopts the name Father MakotoTakakura. Throughout the 1950s, he struggles with various ailments, even spending an entireyear in the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital. After suffering strange infections in his fingers, feverand flu-like symptoms, low white blood counts, a cataract, and constant discomfort, he is finallytransferred by the dioceses to a small church in Mukaihara. A few years later he hires a newcook, Yoshiki-san, who also becomes his nurse, housekeeper, and constant companion. FatherTakakura's health steadily declines, as he develops complications such as liver dysfunction, highblood pressure, and various aches and pains. In 1976, he slips on some ice and becomesbed-ridden. The next year he falls into a coma and...

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