Hiroshima, written by John Hersey, is an exciting and informative first-hand account of the
dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Hiroshima tells the stories of six
survivors of the A-bomb. It is written in a journalistic style. Even though the author does not
add any of his own emotions to the book, it never gets boring.
John Hersey was born on June 17, 1914, in Tientsin, China. His parents, Roscoe and
Grace Hersey, were missionaries. He lived in Tientsin until he was ten years old and then moved
back to the United States with his parents. Hersey attended Yale and then went on to graduate
study at Cambridge. He obtained a summer job as a secretary for Sinclair Lewis in 1937 and
started working for Time magazine in the fall. Two years later he was transferred to Time's
Chungking bureau. During World War II he covered the fighting in Europe and Asia, writing
articles for Time, Life, and The New Yorker.
In the winter of 1945- 46, William Shawn, Hersey's
managing editor at The New Yorker, discussed with him an idea he had for a story about the
bombing of Hiroshima. Shawn wanted a story that would show how life had been affected for the
bomb victims. The story was to be published in August 1946, on the one-year anniversary of the
dropping of the atomic bomb (Rothman).
Hiroshima, the result of Hersey's story in The New Yorker, focuses on six inhabitants of
Hiroshima that were deeply affected by the attack on their city in August of 1945: Miss Sasaki, a
clerk; Dr. Fujii, a physician; Mrs. Nakamura, a tailor's widow; Father Kleinsorge, a German
priest; Dr. Sasaki; a young surgeon; and Reverend Tanimoto, a Methodist pastor. The book is
divided into five chapters.