Nagasaki: The Massacre of the Innocent and Unknowing

Nagasaki: The Massacre of the Innocent and Unknowing

Nagasaki: The Massacre of the Innocent and Unknowing

Nagasaki: The Massacre of the Innocent and Unknowing


Using contemporary diaries and letters, mainly translated from Japanese, we follow a group of Nagasaki residents from the early morning of the day of the bombing of Hiroshima to midnight on the day of the second bombing in Nagasaki

In a compelling narrative based on eyewitness accounts, contemporary diaries, letters, and interviews, Craig Collie collects the stories of the many levels of devastation suffered on that fateful day in Nagasaki. The war was coming to an end at last. The people of Nagasaki knew this as they desperately tried to survive each day's shortages of food and warmth- ordinary people going about their lives as normally as they could manage. People like Nagai, the doctor who'd just been told he had leukemia; Father Tamaya, the Catholic priest who'd agreed to postpone a return to his rural parish; and Koichi, the tram driver. Because the bombing of Hiroshima had been so devastating and there was severe media censorship, they knew nothing of what had befallen that city except for unbelievable stories told by a few survivors who had just now arrived. Beyond Japan, forces they could never have imagined were mustering as the Americans prepared to drop their next atomic bomb on the armaments-manufacturing city of Kokura. Bad weather, however, sent the pilots and their terrible load to Nagasaki, where a group of 169 POWs were digging air-raid shelters and repairing bridges near what became the bomb's epicenter. And, above the heads of them all, the machinery of wartime politics stumbled on toward its catastrophic finale. This book comes as close as history will allow to being there when 80,000 people died as a result of the bomb, half of them instantaneously. The world had changed forever and the shock waves would ripple right up to the present day, as we continue to contemplate the terrible power of a nuclear future.


Fate is a plane high in the sky. Sometimes we hear it coming; sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we guess the significance of that sound; sometimes it eludes us. We listen to the distant drone in a sort of uncomprehending stupor. Fate is a lottery, after all. It is only with hindsight that we can appreciate the steps that should have been taken, usually long before, to redirect it. Mostly, by the time we hear the sound of our approaching fate it is too late to avoid the consequences.

This is the story of the days leading up to the release of a cataclysmic product of human technological ingenuity, heralded by the sound of a plane at high altitude above the humdrum daily grind of a city crippled by war and languishing in the swelter of summer. Dog days in a city that fate would soon overtake.

On the bus that took them from the company-owned boarding house to within walking distance of Mitsubishi’s Hiroshima shipyards, Tsutomu Yamaguchi realised he’d left his personal stamp—his inkan—behind. Dipped in red ink paste, the inkan was pressed on documents in lieu of a signature. Without it, Yamaguchi couldn’t sign off on his departure . . .

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