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The power of authentic stories and new journalism—Hiroshima

Book introduction:

Told through Hersey who interviewed six survivors of the Hiroshima atom bomb, the journalistic masterpiece tells what happened on the day and forty years after the incident. Using new journalism techniques, the book powerfully tells a different side of the story.

Book recommendation:

The book is very touching and “stirs the conscience of humanity” through details and human stories. It compassionately appeals to the empathy of the audiences and is absolutely deserving of reading for history lovers.

Rating: 4.9/5

The power of authentic stories and new journalism—Hiroshima

New journalism was a style deemed unconventional in the 1970s. Unlike the common unbiased news reporting, new journalism incorporates the literary techniques in storytelling and fiction writings to narrate true stories and experiences. In Niroshima, a book about the authentic experiences and trauma Japanese residents experienced after the atomic bomb landed on the land of Niroshima, John Hersey perfectly incorporates the storytelling technique to reveal the dehumanization, destruction, and long-lasting effects of the war.

The stories of wars are deemed traumatic. In order to tell human stories and disclose a different side of the more dominant narrative, the details have become important in the narration. In the book, Hersey uses concise language and detailed writing to report the experiences and aftermaths of the 6 survivors in the atomic bomb in Japan.

Transitioning from person to person, the characters come to life from their professions, accurate activities when the “noiseless flash” appeared, and their memories and stories 40 years after the bombing. As Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, one of the six interviewees, was lying “on a cot in the mission house reading a Jesuit magazine” when his beloved city was destroyed into ashes. Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, on the other hand, was “watching a neighbor from her kitchen window” as the tragedy took place. The small details provide the audiences with vivid images of the true experiences of the survivors based on their memories and accounts of the incident. Although readers from years after the bombing can never have a first-hand experience of the traumatizing event, the stories, which incorporate the new journalism writing style, brings the heartbreaking events back to life, as vivid as portrayed in documentaries, movies, and photographs. In the first chapter, the auditory experiences also become an important part of the experience as the “noiseless flash” symbolize the silence of the people in the face of the atomic bomb as well as their helpless fates. The silence creates a compelling contrast with the intense visual image of the flash, challenging the auditory and visual capacity of the readers whose understanding of the tragedy could be limited from textbooks.

The impact of the book is huge—the book embraces the past mistakes and serve as a great lesson for history learners. From the immediate physical trauma like cuts and bruises to susceptibility to cancer in the years that followed and from the initial shock to the everlasting emotional trauma, the destruction of the atomic bomb was more than immense. The true stories of the survivors who experienced the physical pain and emotional trauma of losing what they love dearly is indeed shocking to the readers. The book acknowledges the past mistakes and gives voices to the direct victims who remained hopeless and traumatized. Although it could not change what had happened in history, Hiroshima amplifies the trauma through the lens of the victims so that the public can understand, experience, and feel.

The power of journalism is huge—journalism and the specific style provide Hersey with a way of storytelling that best focuses on the victims, their stories and experiences so that when people talk about the “evil Nazi” and celebrate the victory, they can also pay tribute to those who lost their lives and the innocent towns, cities, and lives that perished.

Most of the survivors, as revealed by Hersey, were ordinary human beings who barely engaged themselves in the War, but they were all involved through the happening of the atomic bombing, and their lives were thus forever changed.

Whether the stories told by Hersey align completely with the truth remains unknown, but the work is undeniably a masterpiece of journalism. It humanizes the victims and touches the hearts of the readers, who, in the reading process, form a more comprehensive picture of WWII and wars in general. The creative technique makes the victims human and tells the stories of war in a unique and important angle.

Information: Hiroshima by John Hersey

Date: 2/28/20


Published by Sunny

I am a high school rising sophomore and I love to read and write.

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