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Synopsis: As the United States debates launching another war in the Middle East, this passionate diary paired with a pondered discussion provides a reality check on how governments goad citizens into going to war and gives a forthright look at the hideous results for civilian casualties.
Who bears the responsibility for decisions made in a democracy when our leaders or the media exaggerate the threat and downplay the harm our actions will cause?
The children of Hiroshima, Japan, were heading for school the morning of August 6 when the Enola Gay soared overhead and dropped the atomic bomb that exploded some 2,000 feet above the city, killing or destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians. In the aftermath, Sadako Okuda searched for eight days for her young niece and nephew in the smoking ruins.
In this agonizing diary she documents for the world the selfless compassion of the youngest victims. The children Okuda tried to save stunned her with their dignity and enduring will to help others and to hold their families together.
She, and the children, generously insist on avoiding bitterness and blame. But as responsible citizens, we still have to face ourselves in the mirror.
The first part of the book presents a series of immediate, sickening, and amazing impressions as the sufferers extend gestures of enormous humanity and generosity amid hell-like conditions. Most harrowing and heartbreaking of the victims were the children she encountered, helplessly roaming the streets in pain and dismay.
In the second part of the book, historians, medical experts and sociologists explore the background of the event and the social psychology that allowed Americans to accept this atrocity committed in their names.
The official story used to justify the use of the bomb fails to match up with the facts at the time; racial prejudices were fanned into hatred and biased reporting was used to whip up a desire for revenge. The techniques are still with us and they frustrate honest citizens of a democracy as they seek to make responsible decisions.
At Hiroshima, we know where were the Weapons of Mass Destruction and we know that civil rights and human rights were infringed, but we still don t know why proud citizens of a democracy allowed it.
About the Author:
Born in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, in 1914, Okuda was a sewing teacher on a small island some 35 miles off Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Even from that distance, both her sight and hearing on her right side were permanently damaged by the radiation. Since 1960 and until her recent retirement, she taught home economics at a non-traditional high school in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. She still lives in the mountains she loves, close to her school.
The translator and editor, Pamela Vergun, earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University, her Masters Degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and her B.A. in Language Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She currently lives in the Portland, Oregon area with her husband and two children.
The illustrations were created by Mia Nolting, a freelance illustrator who lives in Portland, Oregon.
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