In my journalism class we read the book Hiroshima by John Hersey. It is an account of six characters in Japan after the atomic bomb was dropped. This is what I thought of it.
I think that the very first page in the book, Hiroshima, really works. It is a list of all the main characters in the book. Since the names in the book are foreign to me, I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of the characters. It was nice to have a list at the very front of the book to keep track of them.
I think what doesn't work in the book is the fact that there isn't a lot of dialogue. It was confusing to keep track of who I was reading about because there was little dialogue, which is usually a literary device that breaks up narrative. I also think it would have given better insight into the characters. I could imagine that the characters were feeling horrible after the bomb hit Japan, but I think that dialogue could have shown how the characters were really feeling, instead of me guessing. What if they weren't feeling horrible? What if they had other feeling when the bomb hit? I don't know, because I've never been in that situation.
In regards to what's missing, I think it is dialogue once again to clarify the characters and their reactions and feelings. I also was confused as to why people in Japan thought the doctor who brought the young Japanese girls or "maidens" to America would think that it was selfish or conceded. I think that could have used a little more explanation. To me, I could see where he would get recognition, but I also thought that it was a pretty good thing for him to help the girls scarred in the war.
I think that journalists can learn that sensationalism isn't needed when you have a really good story. The tone of Hiroshima is very dead pan, calm, not over exaggerated. When you have sentences that say people's skin peeled off when there hand was touched or that people's eyeballs melted down their face, there is no need for exaggeration. I think journalists can learn from Hersey to look for the engaging parts of a story, instead of adding one's own exaggerations.
Although they are not about the same topic, I liked the fact the Hersey in Hiroshima did not really insert his own thoughts or say directly what the characters were thinking opposed to Mike McIntye in To the Grave. To the Grave was a non-fiction book our journalism class read last year. I found Hiroshima to be more believable and true to the events that happened because Hersey's own comments were not included.
Hiroshima was first published in The New Yorker in 1946. It was so widely regarded that is was then published into a book and distributed all over the world with high sales.
When reading Hiroshima I often felt sick. I couldn't believe that one country could do this to another country. I understood that this happened in a time of war, but the suffering the Japanese people had to endure just doesn't seem right. The most chilling thing was that after all this suffering that countries still continued to develop atomic bombs. Could you imagine another bomb like that being dropped today? Frightening, especially after all we know.