(Review) Hiroshima by John Hersey

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Publisher and Publication Date: Modern Library. 1946.
Genre: Nonfiction.
Pages: 120.
Source: Found buried under a pile of stuff in my sister’s closet.
Rating: Recommend. Very good.
Audience: Readers of World War II books, especially those interested in the Pacific War.

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This is a first edition hardcover book. No dust jacket. The front and back cover of the book is blue. I may be the first reader of this particular book. Of course my copy does not look like the photo on the left.

I read The Rape of Nanking before reading Hiroshima. Both books are hard reads. They pull at the heart. My daddy used to say, “war is a horrible thing, Annette.” He was a soldier in Europe during Word War II.
The book is the story of individuals who survived to share their stories. These people are Miss Toshiko Sasaki, Dr. Masakazu Fujii, Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, and Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto. They show a broad view of people living in Hiroshima at the time of the blast. And, through their eyes I see what they experienced and observed.
I learned what they thought had happened. The people realized it must have been a bomb, but had no idea what exactly had happened.
I learned about where many of the people went, they walked to a park to await help.
I learned that the doctors had little medical devices to help the people. They ran out of bandages. They had only iodine to use.
The wounded often waited where they were hoping help would come. In one situation, a woman was trapped underneath a bookcase.
People were in a stupor of shock. They sat down on the street with skin hanging from their bodies.
After the bomb, the stages of radiation sickness began.
This is the first book I’ve read about the atomic bombings in Japan.
This book is brief. However, it makes an impact on the reader.

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(Review) The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang

 

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Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 1998.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. World War II.
Pages: 290.
Source: Library. E-book copy.
Rating: Recommend, but not for a minor or a person who is sensitive.
Audience: For readers interested in the history of Imperial Japan’s invasion of China.

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I borrowed this book twice via OverDrive-an app to borrow books from the library. I recommend this app!

 

If you’ve read previous reviews of this book, you’ve read comments like, “a hard read” or “graphic.” This is an understatement. I read at night before bed. This is a tough book to read before bedtime. Many of the chapters are filled with heart-wrenching, macabre, and even fearful stories. The research, interviewing, and writing of this book is a story in itself. A must read chapter in the book is at the tail end: Iris Chang’s painful life and ending. This is one of the most memorable books I’ve read, because of the content and the author. I recommend this book, but with hesitation. Do not feel that you must read a book that will disturb you. I’ve watched many frightening films and read scary books, but have not been as disturbed as this book. Read it, but take your time. Possibly read a chapter or less at one sitting followed by another book that’s a light read.

On December 13, 1937, Nanking, China, the capital city of Nationalist China, fell to Imperial Japan. To use words like atrocities, rampage, and murder is not sufficient.
Iris Chang felt compelled (and thrust herself as on a life mission) to discover the complete history in order to write a book on the Rape of Nanking. She felt many books had been written about the Holocaust during World War II, but the history of the Rape of Nanking had left few writings. She did not want that generation of survivors (and also as a memorial to those who’d died) to die without telling their stories.

This review is not going to be as usual: sharing what I liked and disliked about the book.
To me, this book is hallowed, almost a sacred testament. I feel it would be disrespectful to do otherwise.

Notable aspects in The Rape of Nanking:
•The history and building up of Imperial Japan. Who they were pre 20th century, the political reasonings of Japan, and the movement of Japan against other nations in East Asia.
•Japan and their alliances and relationship with Italy and Germany during World War II.
•Detailed facts and figures.
•A strong point that Japan has tried to ignore or minimize this history.
•The officers in charge of the army who took Nanking. This includes their background and epilogue.
•Answers the question as to how the Japanese soldiers could have been so rabid in their actions.
•Women who were taken/abducted to be used in sexual slavery. These women were from China, but also from other Asian countries.
•Stories are shared by those Chinese who survived.
•Stories of three western civilians who tried to help the Chinese. This includes their life story and epilogue.
•The Nanking War Crimes Trial.
•Epilogue of how the survivors lived after the war.