Delving into nonfiction to find out what actually happened all those years ago | Hiroshima by John Hersey


My first, proper nonfiction book of this year. And hopefully not my last.

I didn’t know how this was going to go. I don’t read nonfiction – why would I do that when I can read about magic and faeries and dragons in fantasy books? Buuuuut my love for history is gently drawing me into nonfiction, so here we are today.


Let’s dive into Hiroshima!


Title: Hiroshima

Author: John Hersey

Publisher: Penguin Modern Classics

Series Status: Standalone

Genre: Nonfiction, History

Number of Pages:  208


(Found on Goodreads)

When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 100,000 men, women and children, a new era in human history opened. Written only a year after the disaster, John Hersey brought the event vividly alive with this heartrending account of six men and women who survived despite all the odds. A further chapter was added when, forty years later, he returned to Hiroshima to discover how the same six people had struggled to cope with catastrophe and with often crippling disease. The result is a devastating picture of the long-term effects of one bomb.


Going into this, I barely knew anything about Hiroshima. The whole point of me picking it up was to learn more.

With that in mind, I actually found it kind of confusing for the first half or so. This book follows the accounts of six different people, which made me think there would be a chapter for each person. But no. Each chapter focuses on a different stage of the event, switching between each person and what was happening to them at the time. Which I suppose makes sense, because it kept everything in chronological order. And I suppose the book would have started to get repetitive if it was the way I thought, going over the event six times.

But…it not only means it took me a while to adjust to each person, all the names, professions, places – it also meant I didn’t have that much of a connection with the people. If I had heard their stories all in one go, I’ve absolutely no doubt I’d have felt the tragedy of Hiroshima at full force. But just as I started feeling for one person, it was put almost on a break by switching to someone else’s perspective. And the process would start all over again, broken up every time it switched person.

However, it did do what I came for. I feel educated, and glad for being so. Things were mentioned that I wouldn’t even consider – like the plain fact of how hot it was close to the bomb. 6000°c. And here I am in England, thinking it’s summer when it gets to 18°c. I can’t even comprehend 6000°c…

I can’t help but hold the utmost respect for these people. Or even admire them, in a way. Because out of everything, what this book really showed me was how there’s no use in complaining. They were struck with this huge tragedy, and they just got up and dealt with it. There’s no point in dwelling, it is what it is. All you can do is push through.

I’m glad to know their story. I’m glad I’ll hold it with me from now on.

Rated 3/5 stars




Share your thoughts!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

If you haven’t, is it on your TBR?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…


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4 thoughts on “Delving into nonfiction to find out what actually happened all those years ago | Hiroshima by John Hersey

  1. Great review, Ashleigh! Although I do love history, this doesn’t seem like a book I would normally pick up. But your review makes me think I should at least give it a try. It’d be interesting to learn about Hiroshima, as I don’t know much at all about it. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For your first taste of non-fiction, you certainly picked a heavy novel to read. I read this one in college…about eight years ago. There is a scene in the book that describes the way the floral pattern of a woman’s dress was burned into her skin, and I’ve never forgotten that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. My interest in history tend to bring around all the heavy topics :/ I think for me, it was the mention of how the shadow/shape of people burnt into the floor…can you imagine seeing that? How horrid.


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