Monday, February 22, 2016

Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, by Susan Southard

Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, by Susan Southard is a precise and gut wrenching account of the nuclear attack on Nagasaki, and its lasting impact on the city, its survivors, and Japanese post-war sentiments regarding the war. Although the title suggests only the aftermath of the bombing will be explored, Southard examines the time period both before and during the delivery of the bomb, from both the Japanese and American viewpoint.

This book shows the terrible suffering the bomb brought upon innocent civilians; Southard is definitely in the camp which holds that the dropping the atomic bombs on Japan were not necessity to bring a conclusion to the war. I have always thought otherwise, while fulling recognizing that using atomic weapons on Japan (as well as the massive conventional bombing campaigns of 1944 and 1945) were terrible, however militarily, necessary events.

Southard gets into this debate in detail. Despite this slant, the book is a splendid example of history written as a living entity; her prose combines the quest for historical facts of war with the very real life struggle to understand its impact on individual lives.

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