Saturday, January 05, 2013
Book Review - Hiroshima Nagasaki by Paul Ham
I purchased this book quite some time ago following an interview on News Radio that I heard with Paul Ham regarding the release of his new book and some doco that was going to be on television. It was such a captivating interview that I just sat in the car and waited until it was completed. Having read his other books, Vietnam and Kokoda, I knew that I had to buy this book.
Been rather busy of late and couldn’t find the time to sit down and read it. When the Christmas/New Year break came around I was about a sixth of the way through reading and resolved to complete it. Got within about 30 pages and have just managed to finish it this weekend.
It details the beginnings of the atomic bomb and you get to know a great deal about the people behind it. Amazing that such a huge machine was required, some 70,000 employees, and very few knew what was happening. It took approximately four years to reach fruition and in this time Germany, which was the initial target, ceased to be the target which changed to Japan. A total of 70 of the scientists working on it signed a petition for it not to be used on Japan in July 1945.
The devastation strikes home with firsthand accounts from survivors of both cities who were interviewed by the author. The aftermath of the bombings and how they affected citizens was difficult to read and isn’t suitable for anyone under the age of 15 or 16, I’d say, as they bring to mind a terrible scene.
Laid to rest is the myth that the bombs, Little Boy and Fat Man, brought about an end to the war and Japan’s surrender. The truth is that Russia declaring on war brought about Japan’s capitulation. The blockade of Japan and firebombing of their cities had rendered them basically beaten and the bombs brought about a finish with the US being the victor and Russia not able to invade and destroy Japan and take the spoils. There was no need to use the bombs and the argument that million/s of lives were saved rings quite hollow. Perhaps the most horrible fact brought to my attention was that American doctors used the survivors as guinea pigs rather than treated them and thousands more people died than would have if assisted.
Fantastic reading and not clouded by propaganda and indoctrination that was prevalent at the time. Don’t know if it is going to rewrite history, as the victor gets to write history, but it’s a damn good start.