October 18, 2017
Hersey's "Hiroshima" and HibakushaOn this day in 1946, John Hersey's "Hiroshima" was published in The New Yorker. The article took up all sixty-eight pages of text space (everything except for the "Goings On" calendar), an unprecedented and unannounced event for the magazine. Nor did the cover picture of a summery park scene give any indication, though there was a white band on the outside warning readers of the departure, and an editorial note on page one expressing the magazine's conviction that the nuclear explosion was an event "that everyone might well take time to consider." The magazine sold out almost immediately, with scalpers soon charging twenty dollars for the fifteen-cent issue. The story was reprinted, broadcast and published in book form throughout the world, and has never been out of print. Book of the Month Club members received a copy free, because of its "importance at this moment to the human race." When Hersey died in 1993, one obituary called "Hiroshima" the "most famous magazine article ever published."
Hersey chose to follow the event's impact on six survivors, and to tell their story in a detached, documentary style. This is Reverend Tanimoto describing the fleeing multitudes just after he realized that more than his area of the city was hit:
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