Discussing Hiroshima.

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Shawna Danielson

Modern World Civilizations II

April 14th, 2008

Hiroshima by John Hersey provides the reader with a front row seat to the devastation that atomic power can cause.  This book tells the story of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on that fateful day in August, 1945, through the eyes of various survivors.  Through the eyes of those survivors, we are able to see a glimpse of the horror that occurred on August 6th, 1945.  We are able to see how devastating atomic power can be, not only structurally and physically, but also the long term repercussions as well.   

            The force of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 was absolutely devastating.  The pressure from the explosion “varied from 5.3 to 8.0 tons per square yard”, and “had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT.”  The bombs blast was forceful enough to move gravestones, knock over railroad cars, and move concrete bridges.  The heat of the bomb at its center “must have been 6,000° Celsius.”  The bomb caused concrete to become discolored to a “light, reddish tint, had scaled off the surface of granite. . . and left prints of the shadows left by its light.”  Over 2,500 yards away from the center, a shadow was found that had been “projected by the handle of a gas pump.”  There were also a few “vague human silhouettes” found near the center. 

            Over 62,000 buildings were destroyed, and nearly 6,000 were devastated beyond repair.  “In the heart of the city. . . only five modern buildings. . .  could be used again without major repairs.”  Houses had been knocked down, whole city blocks had collapsed, fire engulfed everything, and “gas storage tanks went up in a tremendous burst of flames.”  There was “four square miles of a reddish-brown scar” where everything burned down.  On the roadways there were “hundreds of crumpled bicycles, shells of streetcars and automobiles, all halted in mid-motion.”

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   Of the 245, 000 people that lived in Hiroshima when the bomb dropped, 100,000 died and another 100,000 were injured. This number was much greater than the original estimate that “78,150 people had died, 13,983 were missing, and 37,425 had been injured.”  As more and more corpses were recovered from the wreckage, the death toll raised to over 100,000.  It is calculated that “about 25 per cent had died of direct burns from the bomb, about 50 per cent from other injuries, and about 20 per cent as a result of radiation effects.”  Of those that died, there were ...

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