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Hiroshima in History and Memory


Summary of "Hiroshima" by John Hersey


"Hiroshima," written by John Hersey, is a poignant account of the atomic bomb's devastation on August 6, 1945, in Hiroshima, Japan. The narrative focuses on the lives of six individuals who miraculously survived the explosion and its aftermath, weaving a story of resilience, chance, and the human capacity to endure.

Main Characters

  1. Miss Toshiko Sasaki: A clerk at the East Asia Tin Works, Sasaki was at her desk when the bomb struck.
  2. Dr. Masakazu Fujii: Positioned on the porch of his private hospital, Dr. Fujii was reading a newspaper at the moment of the explosion.
  3. Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura: A widow and tailor, she was observing a neighbor from her kitchen window.
  4. Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge: A German priest with the Society of Jesus, he was reading a Jesuit magazine in his order's mission house.
  5. Dr. Terufumi Sasaki: A young surgeon at the Red Cross Hospital, he was carrying a blood specimen for testing.
  6. Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto: The pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, he was unloading a handcart at a wealthy man's house in Koi.

The Fateful Day

At exactly 8:15 AM, as these six individuals were engaged in ordinary activities, the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima. The bomb's blast instantly altered their lives, leaving them among the few survivors in a city where 100,000 people perished.

Survival and Reflection

Each survivor attributes their miraculous escape to small decisions and actions taken moments before the bomb detonated. These include choosing to speak to a colleague, reading a newspaper, observing neighborhood activities, and being indoors. These seemingly trivial choices resulted in their survival amidst widespread destruction.

The Aftermath

Post-explosion, the survivors were left to ponder the randomness of their survival while witnessing an unprecedented scale of death and devastation. None had foreseen the extent of the bomb's impact, and each grappled with the reality of having lived through a catastrophic event that claimed so many lives.


"Hiroshima" by John Hersey is a powerful narrative that captures the human dimension of a historical event of monumental destruction. It highlights the unpredictability of survival, the profound impact of chance, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable tragedy​【oaicite:0】​.