Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6-September 30, 1945

Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6-September 30, 1945

Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6-September 30, 1945

Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6-September 30, 1945

Excerpt

A HALF century has passed since Dr. Michihiko Hachiya wrote his diary in the ruins of Hiroshima. Forty years have gone by since his observations became available to English-language readers through the devoted translating and editing of an American doctor, Warner Wells. The translation was hailed as an extraordinary literary event when it first appeared in the United States in 1955, and it retains its capacity to move us today.

This is a remarkable accomplishment, for what we encounter here is an account of the end of a ferocious war that is intimately Japanese and simultaneously transcends national, cultural, and racial boundaries. The diary speaks to the human heart and human condition, and does so without artifice, for it was not intended to be published. Dr. Hachiya himself was severely injured by the blast effects of the atomic bombing. At one point he notes in passing that his face and body still showed around 150 scars. By August 8, 1945, however-- two days after Hiroshima was devastated--he was well enough to begin keeping a record of his convalescence in the hospital he himself administered. That record is what we have here, and there is nothing comparable to it.

As a rule, Westerners, and Americans in particular, have been reluctant to look closely at the world in which Dr. Hachiya lived between August 6 and the last day of September, when his diary ends. In the heroic American narrative of the war, the destruction of Hiroshima commonly ends with the mushroom cloud, followed by a . . .

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