My first “real” exposure to the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were a visit to the Smithsonian in Washington DC two years ago. After walking through that exhibit, reading the posted information and watching video clips, I was both fascinated and sad at the power that ended WWII. “Could people live through something like that?” I thought. Because of that visit to Washington, when I saw this book by Susan Southard, I knew I had to read it and find out what these five survivors went through.
The book follows five people who lived through the bombing of Nagasaki and their stories from hours before the atomic bomb, through their recovery and up to present day. I was very impressed with the details that Southard included about the course of events – not only did she walk us through the lives of real people who survived such a horrific attack, she covered the reasons why the US used such a weapon and what they thought they knew about nuclear warfare and eventually, what they didn’t. The stories of Wada, Nagano, Do-oh, Taniguchi and Yoshida were astounding. Though each person suffered different effects from the attack (based on how close they were to the hypocenter) I was captivated by their experiences and recoveries. It’s hard to believe that something so awful could happen, but after getting an up close and personal view of how nuclear war devastated the people of Nagasaki, I think it would do us good to be educated to the effects of war on society. Though there were some scientific terms used that were way above my head, the author explained what it meant in “layman terms.” In fact, I found the technical facts very interesting, even if I can’t remember their proper terms/names. In this regard, the book was very informative and educational; a good read.
Conclusion: As mentioned above, the first time I saw this book, I was drawn to it and knew I would read it. Now, after I finished it as an addition to my the “Around The World In 80 Books” reading challenge, I would say that Nagasaki was more than I expected. I can definitely see myself pulling this volume out in the future and re-reading it. If you’re interested in WWII, the atomic bombs or the effects of war, I highly recommend Nagasaki by Susan Southard.