NAGASAKI Life After Nuclear War
Viking 2015/ HARDBACK
Susan Southard’s decade-plus of research and collected eyewitness accounts in “Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War” is chilling, and prompts rethinking the United States’ true motive for dropping a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, only three days after Hiroshima was nuked and as Japan was preparing to surrender.
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“. . . a fresh perspective . . .”
Southard’s scrutiny uncovers astonishing data on miscalculations by the U.S. on the effects of radiation and subsequent censorship of film and photographs of the destruction, death and injuries in Nagasaki. But even more compelling are the personal stories of five hibakusha, a name given to the bomb victims, whom she interviewed.
Yoshida Katsuji’s face and ear were burned off. Taniguchi Sumiteru’s entire back was seared. Nagano Etsuko and Dō-oh Mineko both were badly burned, and broken bones and glass splinters penetrated their bodies. Wada Kōichi, a streetcar operator, suffered limited injuries and joined the rescue effort.
These victims acknowledge Japan’s war crimes and they apologize, saying they do not hate Americans. “I want everybody to understand the hell we lived,” Yoshida Katsujihe says, adding, “No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more War!”
Their interviews reveal vivid images of the day the bomb fell: Scattered and burned bodies, fires, screaming, desperate thirst, searching for family, constant fires, and then, radiation sickness.
Southard’s startling conclusion is contrary to the official U.S. line that the bomb ended the war and saved countless lives. Japan’s allies, Italy and Germany, already had surrendered, Russia joined the Allies and documents were being prepared declaring defeat. Most Americans meanwhile are not even aware that two bombs were dropped on Japan only days apart, surveys indicate.
There are countless books debating the use of the atomic bomb, but Southard’s eloquent account offers new information compassionately intertwined with personal accounts that deliver a fresh perspective and much food for thought.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla