Education About Asia: Online Archives

A Tribute to John Hersey’s Hiroshima

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This will be the sixtieth-year anniversary of one of the most remarkable books of American history, John Hersey’s Hiroshima, first published on August 31, 1946, in The New Yorker. In March 1946, William Shawn, managing editor of The New Yorker, called for an article focused on the immediate devastation in Hiroshima rather than on statistics or politics. John Hersey interviewed survivors for three weeks in May and decided to focus on suffering human beings rather than on destroyed buildings. He edited his 150page manuscript with the help of Shawn and Harold Ross; the two editors decided to devote one entire issue—no cartoons, no “Talk of the Town”—to this one factual narrative.

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