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Drawing on the voices of atomic-bomb survivors and the new science of forensic archaeology, Charles Pellegrino describes the events and aftermath of two days in August when nuclear devices detonated over Japan changed life on Earth forever Last Train from Hiroshima offers readers a stunning “you are there” time capsule, gracefully wrapped in elegant prose. Charles Pelle Drawing on the voices of atomic-bomb survivors and the new science of forensic archaeology, Charles Pellegrino describes the events and aftermath of two days in August when nuclear devices detonated over Japan changed life on Earth forever Last Train from Hiroshima offers readers a stunning “you are there” time capsule, gracefully wrapped in elegant prose. Charles Pellegrino’s scientific authority and close relationship with the A-bomb’s survivors make his account the most gripping and authoritative ever written.** At the narrative’s core are eyewitness accounts of those who experienced the atomic explosions firsthand—the Japanese civilians on the ground and the American flyers in the air. Thirty people are known to have fled Hiroshima for Nagasaki—where they arrived just in time to survive the second bomb. One of them, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, is the only person who experienced the full effects of the cataclysm at ground zero both times. The second time, the blast effects were diverted around the stairwell in which Yamaguchi had been standing, placing him and a few others in a shock coccoon that offered protection, while the entire building disappeared around them.Pellegrino weaves spellbinding stories together within an illustrated narrative that challenges the “official report,” showing exactly what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and why. **As of Mar 2010, the publisher is discontinuing publication of the book due to issues with its veracity. "Publisher Henry Holt and Company, said that author Charles Pellegrino "was not able to answer" concerns about "The Last Train from Hiroshima," including whether two men mentioned in the book actually existed...Doubts were first raised about the book a week ago after Pellegrino acknowledged that one of his interview subjects had falsely claimed to be on one of the planes accompanying the Enola Gay, from which an atom bomb was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945. Holt had initially promised to send a corrected edition. But further doubts about the book emerged. The publisher was unable to determine the existence of a Father Mattias (the first name is not given) who supposedly lived in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, and John MacQuitty, identified as a Jesuit scholar presiding over Mattias' funeral. Pellegrino's own background was also questioned. He sometimes refers to himself as Dr. Pellegrino, and his Web site lists him as receiving a Ph.D. in 1982 from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. But in response to a query from the AP, the school said it had no proof that Pellegrino had such a degree."


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Drawing on the voices of atomic-bomb survivors and the new science of forensic archaeology, Charles Pellegrino describes the events and aftermath of two days in August when nuclear devices detonated over Japan changed life on Earth forever Last Train from Hiroshima offers readers a stunning “you are there” time capsule, gracefully wrapped in elegant prose. Charles Pelle Drawing on the voices of atomic-bomb survivors and the new science of forensic archaeology, Charles Pellegrino describes the events and aftermath of two days in August when nuclear devices detonated over Japan changed life on Earth forever Last Train from Hiroshima offers readers a stunning “you are there” time capsule, gracefully wrapped in elegant prose. Charles Pellegrino’s scientific authority and close relationship with the A-bomb’s survivors make his account the most gripping and authoritative ever written.** At the narrative’s core are eyewitness accounts of those who experienced the atomic explosions firsthand—the Japanese civilians on the ground and the American flyers in the air. Thirty people are known to have fled Hiroshima for Nagasaki—where they arrived just in time to survive the second bomb. One of them, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, is the only person who experienced the full effects of the cataclysm at ground zero both times. The second time, the blast effects were diverted around the stairwell in which Yamaguchi had been standing, placing him and a few others in a shock coccoon that offered protection, while the entire building disappeared around them.Pellegrino weaves spellbinding stories together within an illustrated narrative that challenges the “official report,” showing exactly what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and why. **As of Mar 2010, the publisher is discontinuing publication of the book due to issues with its veracity. "Publisher Henry Holt and Company, said that author Charles Pellegrino "was not able to answer" concerns about "The Last Train from Hiroshima," including whether two men mentioned in the book actually existed...Doubts were first raised about the book a week ago after Pellegrino acknowledged that one of his interview subjects had falsely claimed to be on one of the planes accompanying the Enola Gay, from which an atom bomb was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945. Holt had initially promised to send a corrected edition. But further doubts about the book emerged. The publisher was unable to determine the existence of a Father Mattias (the first name is not given) who supposedly lived in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, and John MacQuitty, identified as a Jesuit scholar presiding over Mattias' funeral. Pellegrino's own background was also questioned. He sometimes refers to himself as Dr. Pellegrino, and his Web site lists him as receiving a Ph.D. in 1982 from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. But in response to a query from the AP, the school said it had no proof that Pellegrino had such a degree."

30 review for The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Seventy years ago the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing unfathomable devastation and loss lo lives. Any book that uses the testimony from actual people who survived or witnessed this destruction and does not focus on the political always proves to have more of an impact. At least for me. There are pictures now in my head that will never leaves, passages I have read that I will not forget. The author goes int depth of what the actual waves of the bomb did to a perso Seventy years ago the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing unfathomable devastation and loss lo lives. Any book that uses the testimony from actual people who survived or witnessed this destruction and does not focus on the political always proves to have more of an impact. At least for me. There are pictures now in my head that will never leaves, passages I have read that I will not forget. The author goes int depth of what the actual waves of the bomb did to a person, to the buildings and why it missed some who were so close but survived. Some of this was confusing to me though I felt the author patiently tried to relate this message in simpler terms, I just don't have much of a technical mindset. All in all a memorable, well written book , a book about a time I hope will never come again. ARC from NetGalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back by Charles Pellegrino, Arthur Morey (Narrator) is a book that needs to be read by everyone. I have read several books about Hiroshima but I think this one is one of the best. It flows so well and covers so much- the science of the bomb (without going deep, just the basics), follows survivors, and pilots. It reads like a novel and I feel like I was living through it with them. This is a book that people need to read esp. now with this Govern The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back by Charles Pellegrino, Arthur Morey (Narrator) is a book that needs to be read by everyone. I have read several books about Hiroshima but I think this one is one of the best. It flows so well and covers so much- the science of the bomb (without going deep, just the basics), follows survivors, and pilots. It reads like a novel and I feel like I was living through it with them. This is a book that people need to read esp. now with this Government we have now. Our Groper-in-Chief has a thing for nukes. Scary! Esp. after reading this to remind me of how bad it was and our new ones are so much worse! The narration is perfect, couldn't get a better voice for this book. I got this book from the library.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Miyahara

    “The worst way is to call ourselves victims. To say ‘victim’requires a victimizer, and the victimizer is led to blame; and that starts the cycle of blame. For example, if we say ‘victim of Hiroshima,’ the next sentence that comes up will involve Pearl Harbor and the blaming chain gets stuck all the way in the past. Then we are completely derailed from the lesson that war itself is humanity’s Pandora, and that nuclear weapons are something that came out of Pandora’s Box.” - Masahiro Sasaki qu “The worst way is to call ourselves victims. To say ‘victim’requires a victimizer, and the victimizer is led to blame; and that starts the cycle of blame. For example, if we say ‘victim of Hiroshima,’ the next sentence that comes up will involve Pearl Harbor and the blaming chain gets stuck all the way in the past. Then we are completely derailed from the lesson that war itself is humanity’s Pandora, and that nuclear weapons are something that came out of Pandora’s Box.” - Masahiro Sasaki quoted in To Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima Charles Pellegrino details the suffering and ordeals of the hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombs) in To Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima. The book is unusual for its focus on the double hibakusha, the 300 or so survivors of Hiroshima who took the last trains to Nagasaki where they suffered a second atomic blast. About a tenth survived both bombs, including one man who miraculously survived at the epicenter of both blasts. We journey from ground zero at Hiroshima, to Nagasaki, and eventually to ground zero of the World Trade Center in New York City. Despite the pain and anguish I felt while reading, I was resurrected by their consensus philosophy of hope, kindness and change, rather than vengeance or the Japanese fallback, shikata ga nai (a Japanese saying meaning "it cannot be helped," but depending on how it is used, can convey stoicism in the face of adversity, helplessness against destiny, the restrictions of unchangeable cultural norms, or even indifference). The true value of Pellegrino's work is not just the history, but the sociological and psychological story of the survivors, and how they took their separate routes to Omaiyari, a philosophy Pellegrino describes as roughly equivalent to the modern concept of "pay it forward." Before my mother lost her battle against cancer (as did her mother, two of her brothers and two of her sisters), she went with my sister to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. My sister told me she broke down crying and couldn't stop, and a grief counselor emerged from somewhere nearby to comfort her (I guess her reaction was common enough for the counselors to be available at the memorial). I didn't understand the emotion and grief bottled up inside my mother, especially since she wasn't there the day the bomb was detonated over Hiroshima. When I went with my mother to Japan as a small child and young teenager, we avoided the Memorial and Peace Park in Hiroshima. We visited Hiroshima Castle, and I remember residential neighborhoods with white homes lined with wood and stone privacy fences, and recessed water spillways on either side of the street. To me, Hiroshima was the city from where we would take the ferry to Miyajima and the Great Torii outside the floating Itsukushima Shrine (a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site). We would cross the famous Kintai Bridge near Iwakuni, a few miles to the south across Hiroshima Bay along the Sento Inland Sea. My father was a Marine stationed at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station in the 1950s where he met my mother when she worked at the base exchange. We would go to Hiroshima but we never went to the Memorial. Since we seemed to avoid the epicenter and Memorial, I didn't really understand how deeply my mother was moved and affected, or why. I think I can begin to understand now. Charles Pellegrino weaves a well written narrative around the airmen and scientists who dropped the bombs, the people killed by the bombs, and those who survived the atomic nightmares. Pellegrino takes us from the tense planning sessions on Tinian to the tranquil streets of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As the atomic bombs are dropped, he breaks down this series of events into microseconds, like a frame by frame playback of the events of the chain reaction, the explosion, the shockwave, and the fireball, and their effects on the structures, plants, animals and people. As the conflagration progresses, the tempo picks up to slow-motion. The book must be read in order to gain the complete scope of the different types of tragedy, suffering and horror imagined on the people caught by the bomb. John Hersey's Hiroshima was originally written a year after the explosions while the postwar MacArthur occupation administration of Japan was still enforcing strict censorship regarding the atomic bombs. Hersey’s vivid descriptions of the experiences of a few survivors only scratch the surface. The hibakusha were less willing then to talk of their experiences. The survivors were considered anathema to much of Japanese society, unfit for marriage, and if they managed to start families, even their children were considered genetically tainted. Some survive and some are killed within inches of each other, a capricious whim of fate and chance deciding who lives, who dies, and who suffers terribly. Pelligrino’s descriptions of the destruction and horrors are accurate to a fault, eye-opening and heartrending. More thorough descriptions in this review would do a disservice to the words of the survivors and Mr. Pellegrino's work. The after effects of the atomic blast are unimaginable, and I do mean unimaginable. Nuclear weapons had never before been used; even the deployers did not know what the full effects of the weapons would be. Because the survivors on the ground did not even know the true nature of the weapon, the radiation sickness was a mystery to them. After the symptoms of radiation poisoning first appeared, surviving doctors at Hiroshima and Nagasaki speculated the weapon might have a biological warfare aspect to it. The stories of the survivors' lives after experiencing the atomic bombs is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit and the nobility of man. There is the well-known saga of Sadako Sasaki, a little girl suffering from leukemia caused by radiation. She learns “there is a legend that the crane lives for a thousand years. And they say that if you fold a thousand paper cranes, putting your heart into each one, they will help you with your wish for wellness.” When she begins folding origami cranes the entire hospital staff supports her quest, finding paper for her even though paper is a rare commodity at the time. Dr. Paul Nagai at the St. Francis Nagasaki medical center is suffering from terminal leukemia before the blast and discovers the radiation has sent his cancer into temporary remission. His tuberculosis patients also seem to show some benefit. He not only documents the effects of the radiation on the people, but the plants as well. Although still suffering from leukemia, in his time left he chronicles the struggles of the survivors, publishing 13 books. He becomes a beacon of hope and peace, visited by religious leaders, Helen Keller, and even "two polite men from a new American establishment called the Internal Revenue Service" seeking the taxes on his books (he lives in a hovel and has donated the proceeds to orphans and other survivors). Among the dozens of tales of survivors interwoven and intersecting survivors is the story of Tsugai Ito, who survives the bomb at Hiroshima, but whose brother succumbs to radiation sickness. Mr. Ito brings a thousand cranes to ground zero of the World Trade Center for the victims, among them his son who died in the South Tower when terrorists flew Flight 175 into the building on 9/11. There has been tremendous noise around issues detracting from what I felt was the core message of the survivors, their struggle and their legacy. There is a story here from which I believe all humanity can benefit, but apologists and detractors must first put aside the debates of whether the atomic bombs were necessary, whether they saved lives by defeating Japan without an invasion, or conversely, whether Japan was already on its knees and on the verge of surrender. The first incarnation of this book was The Last Train from Hiroshima: the Survivors Look Back. To simplify, after it was published one of the key persons for the American and technical side of the story, Joseph Fuoco, was discovered to be a fraud who duped Pellegrino by claiming to be part of the crew of the observation B-29s on the atomic missions. Fuoco's contribution amounted to five pages but ruined the book. In the end, the book was pulled by the publisher. As a student of history, I was appalled by the errors and mistakes brought to light in the first iteration, I felt deceived and betrayed, so I threw out my unread copy. Although a polymath, Pellegrino was not a historian by trade, but a paleontologist, archeologist, scientist and science fiction writer more known to the general public for his work on James Cameron films like Titanic and Avatar. To his credit, he believed the story was important enough to rewrite the book. Because of the controversy and furor surrounding the first attempt, 12% of the new edition is endnotes and citations. The preface is by Steven Leeper, the first non-Japanese chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, the organization that manages the Hiroshima Museum, and a professor of Hiroshima Studies at Hiroshima Jogakuin University. It amounts to an attestation to the veracity of Pellegrino's depictions of the survivors' testimony. To Hell and Back: Last Train to Hiroshima humanizes the dead and the survivors of the atomic bombs. It provides a face and voice to the statistical numbers. In the end, I believe Pellegrino's important work will not receive the attention of the original edition or as much as it deserves. The important messages of Omoiyari (pay it forward) and Nyokodo (be kind, love they neighbor as thyself) that is the legacy of the survivors may be lost in the noise and tumult of those who would prefer the hibakusha to remain faceless. The reader willing to open their mind may find their heart opened as well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    This certainly reads like a book written by a man whose close personal friend (and the book’s greatest champion) earns a living telling cinematic stories on the big screen. I wouldn’t deign to doubt the testimony of people who survived the bombing of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki, but Pellegrino’s treatment of their testimonies does raise questions about the fallibility of memory. Finally, the use of illustrations is a head scratcher. Someone’s doodle of a flattened city doesn’t have the same impact This certainly reads like a book written by a man whose close personal friend (and the book’s greatest champion) earns a living telling cinematic stories on the big screen. I wouldn’t deign to doubt the testimony of people who survived the bombing of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki, but Pellegrino’s treatment of their testimonies does raise questions about the fallibility of memory. Finally, the use of illustrations is a head scratcher. Someone’s doodle of a flattened city doesn’t have the same impact as a photograph.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Books Ring Mah Bell

    *stars revoked due to questions of the ass-hat author, Pellegrino making shit up as he wrote this. I should have known. My initial bullpoop alarm went off when one family recalls after the blast in Hiroshima, hearing a man tap dancing. Only he wasn't. He was running/stumbling along in a state of shock, sans feet. The tap dancing was the bones of his fibula and tibia hitting the ground as he went along. (now, I work in rehab, okay. I see people lose half of a foot and need therapy and a walker to *stars revoked due to questions of the ass-hat author, Pellegrino making shit up as he wrote this. I should have known. My initial bullpoop alarm went off when one family recalls after the blast in Hiroshima, hearing a man tap dancing. Only he wasn't. He was running/stumbling along in a state of shock, sans feet. The tap dancing was the bones of his fibula and tibia hitting the ground as he went along. (now, I work in rehab, okay. I see people lose half of a foot and need therapy and a walker to learn how to move again.) So, while that ticked my sensor, I let it pass because a) they all had to be in such a state of shock, seeing horrid things, who knows what the mind tells you. b) dude was nuked. Maybe it gave him crazy superhuman "look at me running without freaking feet" superpowers. Anyway, I'm MAD as hell at Pellegrino. I'm sending him a request for my money back. If he doesn't respond, then I'm sending him my own, homemade bomb: an envelope full of farts. What follows is the original review, before I discovered that he's a turd. Holy Hell! What an exceptionally difficult book to read. I don't mean difficult in the sense that the writing is bad (It's not, in fact it's amazing) or that the author uses really big words that send me scurrying for the dictionary every page (though some of the physics info was a bit much for my wimpy brain). I mean it is painful to read. Simply horrific. (be advised, I'm a total wuss.) It took me quite a while to read this, as every few pages I had to put it down and walk away. The author combines the accounts of several survivors of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the accounts are hellish. Actually, "hellish" may be an understatement. The survivors shared their tales in vivid, garish, terrifying detail. There are accounts of survivors searching for lost loved ones, only to discover they had been vaporized, with nothing left of them but their shadow, imprinted upon the ground. These survivors saw more hell than we are capable of imagining. They wandered the remains of their cities, seeing a man they swore from a distance was an alligator (burned and crawling on the ground); the horse who had all its skin burned off, but was still walking; to a trolley car where everyone was carbonized except for a fetus fighting for life in its dead mother's womb. (see! Horrible. Made me physically ill. Yes, yes, I'm a wimp.) And then there's the radiation poisoning... leading me to believe those vaporized in a second had a "nice" death in comparison. Were all these graphic scenes really necessary? After 50 pages of apocalyptic destruction, how much more do we need to read? Frankly, all of it. Some may say it was overkill, but nothing in here was gratuitous violence. There were atomic bombs dropped on people and they experienced a hell that none of us will, (God, Buddha, HUMANITY help us) ever know. Those who survived those attacks NEED to have their stories heard. We, as a world that loves war, NEED to understand why this (Atomic bombing) must NEVER happen AGAIN.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ms.pegasus

    Bury them and Keep Quiet, Francisco Goya The etching bearing this title is part of a series, Disasters of War. Yet, not even Goya could have anticipated the devastation and random horrors of the atomic bomb. For most of the dead there would be no burial. They were vaporized. They were disintegrating statues of compressed ash. Fragments of them were entombed in fossilized rubble. They were embedded in the mud of choked waterways. They were devoured by radiation poisoning. Even while alive they wer Bury them and Keep Quiet, Francisco Goya The etching bearing this title is part of a series, Disasters of War. Yet, not even Goya could have anticipated the devastation and random horrors of the atomic bomb. For most of the dead there would be no burial. They were vaporized. They were disintegrating statues of compressed ash. Fragments of them were entombed in fossilized rubble. They were embedded in the mud of choked waterways. They were devoured by radiation poisoning. Even while alive they were already dead. Their numbers were so great that they would be consumed in mass cremations. "They," are transformed into names and faces to the extent possible in this careful excavation of history. Goya could not publish his collection of etchings during his lifetime. It would have been too dangerous. Likewise, eye-witnesses of Hiroshima's destruction were circumspect about whom they reported to for fear of execution. In many cases their accounts were labeled mere hysteria. The official line was that there had been “slight damage” to Hiroshima. After Nagasaki was hit, dual survivor Takejiro Nishioka, a government prefect, would listen to his radio. "A government broadcaster tried to assure the nation that Tokyo was aware of the problem in Nagasaki. The minister of war then acknowledged an attack on civilians with a new type of bomb that had caused "some damage" to the city, along with more than a hundred casualties." (p.210) After Japan surrendered the U.S. government censored stories about widespread radiation poisoning. The survivors (hibakusha) themselves found a measure of both personal solace and public invisibility in silence. They were social outcasts, shunned even by their own families. To forget. To move on. To survive. That was what was important. Pellegrino's book gives testament to the people affected by the two bombs. Through meticulous research he has reconstructed events that identify the anonymous lives that intersected after the first bomb dropped. Despite dozens of characters, their individual circumstances become indelible. Takashi Tanemori was in second grade and stood 1160 meters from the hypocenter when the Hiroshima bomb dropped. His father would die of radiation poisoning after repeatedly returning to their old neighborhood, hoping to find his wife alive. The embittered street orphan would ultimately through more twists of fate transform into an artist and peace advocate. Keiji Nakazawa was 6 when the bomb fell. His newborn sister Tomoko survived only a few weeks due to the radiation absorbed by the plants he and his brother scavenged to feed their mother. He would witness the birth of the Hiroshima yakuza organized from the street orphans struggling for survival. As an adult he became a Manga artist under the name of Barefoot Gen and incorporated his experiences in these stories. In Nagasaki two doctors, Tatsuichi Akizuki and Paul Nagai, struggled heroically to save patients while wrestling with the contradictions of their own personal beliefs about life's meaning. Pellegrino structures his book around 7 survivors of both atomic blasts. Many of them were passengers on the final train able to leave Hiroshima for Nagasaki on August 8 at 3:00 PM. This double ordeal was not as improbable as one might think. In terms of proximity, Nagasaki and Hiroshima are only 301 km apart. Unsurprisingly, family connections between the two cities were common. In addition, Hiroshima was an industrial and military center, and many of the men conscripted for employment there had wives and children living in Nagasaki. This book is a poignant and powerful argument for remembrance. “The history of civilization is written in humanity's perversion of nature. In 1945, the two hypocenters were merely the latest examples. Uranium-235 was, in all essentials, the still-active remnant of the super novae that gave the solar system life. Thinking creatures sought it out, coaxed it to beget plutonium, named the newly born element after a Roman god of death, and taught a dead star how to scream out against humanity — twice.” (p.292) Pellegrino reinforces that message with a concluding exchange between Masahiro Sasaki, whose sister Sadako was age two when the bomb at Hiroshima fell. In 2001 an eleven year old asks which country dropped the atomic bomb. Masahiro answers in a way that makes the question irrelevant. We are all humans. We all chose to make the bomb. The problem is not to place blame but to work for peace. NOTES: The Nagasaki bomb actually dropped on the suburb of Urakami due to a chain of conditions Pellegrino details in his book. A commentary about the Goya etchings: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/2014...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    Last Train from Hiroshima by Charles Pellegrino In 1945, I heard my parents discuss the death of their families in Hiroshima. A child, I didn’t know the significance of that day, a day that my ancestors were all destroyed. I later wrote: Hiroshima We cut the chrysanthemum Off its stalk And left it naked in the sun. (From Kapoho:Memoir of a Modern Pompeii) In 1989, Noriyo, a third grader from Hiroshima entered my classroom. Her grandmother, who was child during the bombing, was now dying from cancer. Her Last Train from Hiroshima by Charles Pellegrino In 1945, I heard my parents discuss the death of their families in Hiroshima. A child, I didn’t know the significance of that day, a day that my ancestors were all destroyed. I later wrote: Hiroshima We cut the chrysanthemum Off its stalk And left it naked in the sun. (From Kapoho:Memoir of a Modern Pompeii) In 1989, Noriyo, a third grader from Hiroshima entered my classroom. Her grandmother, who was child during the bombing, was now dying from cancer. Her entire family moved to Hawaii on their doctor's recommendation: Go to Hawaii where it's warm and sunny for the remaining year of her life." I wrote a poem for Noriyo: 44 Years Later a dark mushroom cloud follows me across the Pacific into my classroom. forgive us, Noriyo for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1995, Dr. Jiro Nakano edited and translated 100 tanka poems written by survivors (hibakusha) of Hiroshima in a book called Outcry From the Inferno. I was deeply honored to be one of the English editors. In 2010, I read Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima. Nothing, not the discussions in our kitchen, my poems, the editing I did to Outcry From the Inferno, nothing is more real than this book. A tanka by Dr. Nagai, one of the survivors in Pellegrino's book, is included in the Inferno book. One of the survivors bears the same name of my mother’s family. Mr. Pellegrino, thank you for the open wounds that will never be healed nor forgotten and for dignifying in remembrance, a part of my history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    A terrifying, macabre, heartbreaking book which should be essential reading for every head of state, military leader, peace activist and physicist and medical worker.. It places you on the ground in areas where the atomic bombs hit in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki , into horrific, gruesome scenes which are surreal and beyond our imagination. Imagine standing in a building which collapses all around you, and you have no visible injury but people near you either are instantly vaporized and vanish o A terrifying, macabre, heartbreaking book which should be essential reading for every head of state, military leader, peace activist and physicist and medical worker.. It places you on the ground in areas where the atomic bombs hit in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki , into horrific, gruesome scenes which are surreal and beyond our imagination. Imagine standing in a building which collapses all around you, and you have no visible injury but people near you either are instantly vaporized and vanish or reduced to crumbling lumps of charcoal. This phenomenon is scientifically explained in the book. The horror of taking a friend's hand only to have the skin of their arm peel off like a glove. Doctors and nurses, themselves ill, working with radiation sufferers, in what remains of a building with no roof and without medical supplies. Think of the lines of 'ant people' with melted faces or burned skin resembling that of an alligator, wandering mindlessly in single file until they drop. This book has been thoroughly researched by Charles Pellegrino with many footnotes and bibliography references. There is a foreword by Steven Leeper who worked for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and feels no one has heard more testimony from the survivors than himself and now teaches Hiroshima studies at University in Hiroshima. He has known personally many of the survivors mentioned in this book and can attest to its power and authenticity. There was a previous book called The Last Train From Hiroshima which I read when first published in 2010. It was a riveting, powerful account, but shortly after its publication it was discovered that one man interviewed fabricated his account. The author acknowledged his mistake and wanted to omit that story, but the book was quickly withdrawn and trashed by the publisher. Pellegrino came under a lot of scorn as a result. He has gone back and rewritten and improved on the original. 300 People who survived the bombing of Hiroshima decided to find safety in Nagasaki, and travelled by train to that city. Very soon after arrival the second bomb was dropped. Only 30 of those passengers survived the second atomic blast. Of those double survivors 4 were still alive between 2008 and 2011 and were interviewed multiple times by the author while this book was written. One of the men was at Ground Zero during both blasts and lived to the age of 93. Many of the survivors of either blast were ostracized by society, and the ones who remained relatively healthy lived to see children and grandchildren sickened by forms of cancer. Their chance of marriage was slim, and many chose to hide the fact that they had experienced the blast and subsequent atomic fallout. The writing of this book caused some to admit their true identity and recount their experiences for the first time in hopes that their stories will prevent this from ever happening again to anyone anywhere. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Titanic

    Dr. Pellegrino captures the tragedy of this disaster, the loss, the moral repercussions and heart-rending stories of the victims and survivors that stand to teach us eternal lessons. But beyond meeting high standards of research, of piecing together accounts, and of engrossing and elaborate writing, Pellegrino's greatest talent remains that one mark of an extraordinary author - his uncanny ability to create a world. This author spares no detail, no emotion, no setting or thought in establishing Dr. Pellegrino captures the tragedy of this disaster, the loss, the moral repercussions and heart-rending stories of the victims and survivors that stand to teach us eternal lessons. But beyond meeting high standards of research, of piecing together accounts, and of engrossing and elaborate writing, Pellegrino's greatest talent remains that one mark of an extraordinary author - his uncanny ability to create a world. This author spares no detail, no emotion, no setting or thought in establishing the agony of this historical tragedy and taking the reader to its time. There is a sense of belonging with his books, especially this one, "Farewell, Titanic" and "Unearthing Atlantis" - a belonging to the world his talents of research and impeccable writing have re-created around the reader by engaging both heart and mind. "Last Train" is such a powerful book, and after reading it I get a sense of being one with the story. Anyone who does will always experience the lingering emotions of the strong graphics and the heartache, but will carry that world with them. And that's how I believe this book accomplishes its task of communicating the disaster to ultimately touch and educate us into becoming better people. After all, it is Pellegrino's wish that the horrors of experiencing atomic bombings will never be a terror for anyone to endure on Earth again. Sadly, this book is not without controversy, and I must address that as well. Pellegrino didn't lie about anything. He was tricked into believing the wrong person was on the flight that dropped the bombs when he interviewed Joe Fuoco. It was a simple mistake, one oversight in a boundless ocean of confirmed facts and painstaking research. Dr. Pellegrino wouldn't confirm the identity of some people (Fr. Mattais for example) in the book because of a promise he made to them. He swore to never establish their real names - and this is not the first book he has written that features quotes and ideas by these people. Books he's written decades before "Last Train to Hiroshima" have featured their thoughts, and Pellegrino has explained years and years ago in his other books that one reason he cannot disclose who those individuals are is because one of them is a priest that showed compassion for and buried suicides. Pellegrino didn't break that promise to him for fear of harming another person's career (the Catholic church has strict laws about such matters), even if it meant bringing harm to himself and his own exhausting efforts to put together this brilliant book filled with good intentions. This book is so wonderfully written that I find it so tragic that it should meet a fate of being attacked, doubted and hated in spite of its many strengths. Just because he was tricked into making one mistake, and maintaing his vow to protect the identities of concerned friends that wished to remain anonymous for the sake of their own safety and future, but who wished to shape the word with their wisdom and love for humanity. Pellegrino has too much mercy and a soul too kind for this world, it seems. And it is sad to see him become a martyr with his career for this subject. PS: He did earn his PhD. And I saw on his former university's own website where it was reported that he did. With my own eyes. It's awfully shady that they took it down. But not before I took screen shots.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Ravey

    *I requested this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Today marks the type of anniversary some will celebrate and others will denigrate. Exactly 70 years ago today, the United States, in what some say was an effort to end the war and others claim was a way to justify the expense of scientific research, dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. My Pacific War reading inevitably led me here, but I knew I should not read anything regarding the bombings of Hiros *I requested this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Today marks the type of anniversary some will celebrate and others will denigrate. Exactly 70 years ago today, the United States, in what some say was an effort to end the war and others claim was a way to justify the expense of scientific research, dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. My Pacific War reading inevitably led me here, but I knew I should not read anything regarding the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without gaining a much broader understanding of what led humanity to this moment. Flyboys by James Bradley gave me a look at Japan's history and rise as a military power as well as the cruelty of the Japanese military to American pilots. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan gave me an insider's view of the making of the bombs as well as the American ignorance of such raw power. By the time I made it to Charles Pellegrino's To Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima, I thought I was ready. He opens his book with this line: "Had Mary Shelley or Edgar Allan Poe been born into the mid-twentieth century, they would never have had to invent horror." And then it begins. Pellegrino starts at the epicenter in Hiroshima, mixing science with humanity, breaking down what the bomb did to the humans below it as well as who those humans were and what they were likely doing, based on routine and the flash prints left behind where once men, women, and children stood. He weaves survivor memory and testimony, illustrating the immediate chaos of the bomb's aftermath, describing the teacher whose face would be marked from the flash of the bomb, as a student held up her calligraphy on rice paper, creating the only barrier between her and the pika-don, or "flash-boom" as the Japanese termed it. The first 50 pages of this book resulted in me gasping aloud again and again, shocked at the apocalyptic world it described and bookmarking information I'd never come across before and wanted to come back to. First published in 2010, Pellegrino's book was recalled by the publisher when the New York Times uncovered false information - the book set forth, in part, that an American was killed and others irradiated, based on the testimony of a man who apparently lied about his involvement in the entire affair. This publication, by Rowman & Littlefield, has no such testimony, and names and situations Pellegrino discusses have popped up in multiple books I've read on the topic. All this to say, the book is not only compelling but a reliable and fascinating account of the survivors not just of Hiroshima, but of the men and women deemed "double survivors," those who left Hiroshima in time for the bombing in Nagasaki. Pellegrino gives voice to their suffering, their sorrow, and their spirit of survival in what is, for me, required reading on the subject.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mike S

    I found this book difficult to read because it contains so many heart-rending accounts of people who witnessed the bomb blasts, and the horrors they caused to them or people around them. I had to stop reading it a few times to take a break for a day or two because it had such a strong emotional impact, but I was glad I finished it, because there are some deeply moving accounts of how victims reacted to it with great humanity. After some consideration, I don't think it will accomplish its objecti I found this book difficult to read because it contains so many heart-rending accounts of people who witnessed the bomb blasts, and the horrors they caused to them or people around them. I had to stop reading it a few times to take a break for a day or two because it had such a strong emotional impact, but I was glad I finished it, because there are some deeply moving accounts of how victims reacted to it with great humanity. After some consideration, I don't think it will accomplish its objective of convincing military or political leaders not to use the bomb, quite the contrary, they are such devastating weapons it's hard to see how minds bent on destruction could avoid them. The book also provides an interesting snap shot of Japanese culture, and an interesting bit of history about a 'battle' where hundreds of thousands of Chinese were slaughtered by Japanese soldiers, almost as if the author had wondered how it could happen that these bombs would be 'allowed' to be dropped on Japan in a fair universe. Very good read, very well written, if you're interested in this subject at all you won't be disappointed. Also if you like physics the book has lots of information about what happened when the bombs went off, why the first one was technically a dud, and lots of references to sub=atomic particles and very small time scales.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I learned that most of what I thought I knew about the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong. This book follows survivors from Hiroshima who then fled to Nagasaki just in time to be bombed again. The first half describing the actual bomb runs and the death and destruction which was later played down or covered up by General Douglas MacArthur and his administration of post-war Japan is appalling. To read of the suffering of the people brings home the awful facts of war. Not all at I learned that most of what I thought I knew about the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong. This book follows survivors from Hiroshima who then fled to Nagasaki just in time to be bombed again. The first half describing the actual bomb runs and the death and destruction which was later played down or covered up by General Douglas MacArthur and his administration of post-war Japan is appalling. To read of the suffering of the people brings home the awful facts of war. Not all atrocities were caused by this unexpected weapon, of course. But the book is far more than a catalog of pain and loss. The stories of how people overcame a lack of absolutely all medical supplies; the courage of some people to seek a better way than revenge is truly inspiring. That some survivors lived into the 21st century is truly surprising. Including the woman who was bombed twice, went home to Korea and was shot by the invading Chinese and finally died in the World Trade Center, 9-11-01The capricious way the bombs behaved is hard to grasp. Yes, the first half or so is hard to read; especially considering the proliferation of these kinds of weapons, but it should be required reading for all leaders in governments of the world. A fun sidebar is considering the mentions of James Clavell, Stan Lee (whose character Spiderman comes about from the bite of a radioactive spider) and Herman Wouk.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tracee

    I did not know about the controversy surrounding this book when I first started reading it. About a quarter of the way through the book, when Pellegrino discusses the bombing mission(s) of the 509th, I grew suspicious because Pellegrino's version of events differs from what I had previously read about the dropping of the bombs. A quick google search revealed that the book had been withdrawn by its publisher because the author relied on a fraudulent source and possibly fabricated others. I had to I did not know about the controversy surrounding this book when I first started reading it. About a quarter of the way through the book, when Pellegrino discusses the bombing mission(s) of the 509th, I grew suspicious because Pellegrino's version of events differs from what I had previously read about the dropping of the bombs. A quick google search revealed that the book had been withdrawn by its publisher because the author relied on a fraudulent source and possibly fabricated others. I had to decide if I should read on, knowing that the accuracy of the book was compromised. I chose to read on. Pellegrino is not a credible historian. He is, however, a good writer, and I chose to consider the book as historical fiction. The story is horrifying and tragic, and yet the reader feels compelled to keep reading. In this way it reminded me a little of Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road,' which is, perhaps, not so unusual a comparison since Hiroshima and Nagasaki resembled a post-apocalyptic world when the bombs were dropped. The story is one of haunting visual details, so I found myself imagining what it would be like if it were ever filmed. The book was optioned by James Cameron prior to the scandal, but will probably never be made now, and I think that's unfortunate.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    It isn�t very often that a book leaves me feeling physically winded, but this was one of them. The basic premise is painfully simple; to recount the many different experiences of the nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Others have tried; notably, John Hersey�s excellent Hiroshima; but Pellegrino has produced something truly in a class of its own. The individuals come from all walks of life, and share mixed fortunes. Some died instantly, others escaped with barely a scratch and It isn�t very often that a book leaves me feeling physically winded, but this was one of them. The basic premise is painfully simple; to recount the many different experiences of the nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Others have tried; notably, John Hersey�s excellent Hiroshima; but Pellegrino has produced something truly in a class of its own. The individuals come from all walks of life, and share mixed fortunes. Some died instantly, others escaped with barely a scratch and lived long and healthy lives after the war ended. Some were saved by mere circumstance, whilst others fled Hiroshima for the perceived safety of Nagasaki, and found themselves double survivors. [return][return]This book is excellently written, and presents a sound mixture of historical fact and human perception to tell a difficult story. If the book had a weak section, it was the end, where history started to drift into more abstract moralising about peace and nuclear disarmament. Having said that, even this section was highly relevant and it was an apt ending to a difficult but highly rewarding read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    Absolutely amazing. A very difficult book to read, but I would consider it essential reading. Revealing background on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki/Urakami. I've always felt I didn't learn enough about the Japanese theater in World War II (having focused on Germany) and this book will stay with me. The writing style is well suited to the subject. Pellegrino isn't in the least sentimental or morbid, but his writing still manages to be shocking and scathing. (Note: the book is difficu Absolutely amazing. A very difficult book to read, but I would consider it essential reading. Revealing background on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki/Urakami. I've always felt I didn't learn enough about the Japanese theater in World War II (having focused on Germany) and this book will stay with me. The writing style is well suited to the subject. Pellegrino isn't in the least sentimental or morbid, but his writing still manages to be shocking and scathing. (Note: the book is difficult because he never shies away from a complete and thorough description of the biological/physical impact of an atomic detonation...which is really just an unnecessarily long-winded and fancy way of saying there are graphic descriptions. I just happen to think we need to know this stuff. At the very least, I need to know this stuff. There's so much more to be learned from knowing the worst we have to throw at each other.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Allison Fetch

    I read some of the other reviews before starting this book, which my dad said was a must read because of the subject matter, so I approached the book with a grain of salt. I read it with the understanding that not all of the sources were impeccable. However, even if I were to discount and dismiss those several sources, the remaining provide a tragic and horrific picture of what it was like on the ground for the survivors of the two atomic bombs. The writing was quite good and the descriptions am I read some of the other reviews before starting this book, which my dad said was a must read because of the subject matter, so I approached the book with a grain of salt. I read it with the understanding that not all of the sources were impeccable. However, even if I were to discount and dismiss those several sources, the remaining provide a tragic and horrific picture of what it was like on the ground for the survivors of the two atomic bombs. The writing was quite good and the descriptions amazing. However, the author skipped from person to person so much that it felt quite disjointed and I had trouble keeping up with who was who. I do think that this book, or another like it that specifically addresses the lives and deaths of those subject to the bombs, should be required reading for all military commanders and indeed for all educated adults, worldwide. Some hope came out of the ashes but those ashes never should have been created.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gilda Felt

    I remember reading John Hersey’s Hiroshima, when I was in my early 20s and being deeply disturbed by it. Later, I watched The Day After (which was a bit trite, and even hokey in some places,) and the much better done Threads, which was visceral and disturbing. But nothing could have prepared me for what this book presents. The first hand accounts of those who experienced the horror, who saw what the bomb did to people, and those who had the misfortune to leave Hiroshima for the perceived safety o I remember reading John Hersey’s Hiroshima, when I was in my early 20s and being deeply disturbed by it. Later, I watched The Day After (which was a bit trite, and even hokey in some places,) and the much better done Threads, which was visceral and disturbing. But nothing could have prepared me for what this book presents. The first hand accounts of those who experienced the horror, who saw what the bomb did to people, and those who had the misfortune to leave Hiroshima for the perceived safety of Nagasaki, is often hard to read. But I think it’s something that everyone should have to read, so that there’s no mistake as to what a nuclear war would do. Especially now, when our leaders seem to have forgotten, or, as with some, never knew to begin with. I can’t recommend this book more highly.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    When I was a freshman in college at the University of Minnesota, my second semester physics teacher showed us a movie which was raw footage of the aftermath of the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion, filmed by American military I believe. It showed the utter devastation of the city and the horrific effects the bomb had on survivors, many of them were almost unrecognizable as human. The images made me almost sick to my stomach and I remember sitting in the grass on the mall for a long time after cla When I was a freshman in college at the University of Minnesota, my second semester physics teacher showed us a movie which was raw footage of the aftermath of the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion, filmed by American military I believe. It showed the utter devastation of the city and the horrific effects the bomb had on survivors, many of them were almost unrecognizable as human. The images made me almost sick to my stomach and I remember sitting in the grass on the mall for a long time after class until my head and stomach cleared. The first chapter of The Last Train From Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back described in scientific detail the composition and absolutely incredible and unfathomable power of the two atomic bombs: Little Boy and Fat Man. Most of the rest of the book is comprised of anecdotes of post-bomb experiences and images as told by survivors. Mixed in are the stories of the two bombing crews themselves- what they went through and the dangers they faced transporting these powerful but sensitive weapons through enemy airspace with no escort but a couple of planes carrying scientific instruments. The book ends with an update of a number of survivors featured in the book, some of whom lived long lives despite their exposure to the high radiation levels in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The post-blast images described by the survivors were similar to the ones I remember seeing in physics class, with the survivors detailing the effects experienced by the people and the cities' infrastructure. Amazingly, there were people who survived the Hiroshima blast and fled to Nagasaki only to have to endure another atomic bomb attack. There were even a number of double survivors. Some of the survivors' narratives started near ground zero and some witnessed the event from further away. Most of the survivors lived due to pure luck, they happened to be blast-shielded by a dense building or hill, and maybe were wearing light colored clothing which absorbed less of the flash. Many people were instantly vaporized and left behind only a nuclear shadow on a sidewalk or a wall. The people who were instantly killed were the lucky ones in most cases, as many of the living were horribly maimed and burned, and suffered badly before succumbing to their injuries or eventually radiation poisoning. The wandering survivors were referred to as "ant walkers" because many had their clothes blown off and entire body burned black, and they wandered around aimlessly, many of them blinded by the flash or by injury. I thought this book was really well written and flowed really well. The content was hard to digest, though, and may not be for everyone. There are parts that you can't unread. The edition of the book I read was tainted by the controversy of a fraudulent source resulting in the publisher pulling the book, and the author re-writing some of it to be released in a later edition titled To Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima. The fraudulent source was an American named Joseph Fuoco who claimed to be on one of the planes which escorted the Enola Gay to Hiroshima. He was not on the mission. Unfortunately, much of his "testimony" is included in the book. I wish I had listened to the corrected version of this book. This book would've been a five star book had it not been for the time I wasted listening to the fraudster's accounts. He is also included in the follow-up at the end. This is too bad. Most of the book is absolutely riveting and the accounts of the horrors of nuclear weapon use need to be heard, especially with the nuclear saber-rattling going on in the world today.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Larry Brunt

    This is not an easy read. From the first pages, Pellegrino confronts the reader with the horror of the atomic bomb. The descriptions are at once both technical (Pellegrino is a forensic physicist) and gruesome, though he remains dispassionate--a quiet narrator who allows the facts, and survivors, to speak for themselves. There were times when I didn't think I could finish--at times, the violence was nearly too much to bear. But then, that is really the point of the book. It is to force those who This is not an easy read. From the first pages, Pellegrino confronts the reader with the horror of the atomic bomb. The descriptions are at once both technical (Pellegrino is a forensic physicist) and gruesome, though he remains dispassionate--a quiet narrator who allows the facts, and survivors, to speak for themselves. There were times when I didn't think I could finish--at times, the violence was nearly too much to bear. But then, that is really the point of the book. It is to force those who weren't there to look, and see, and in a tiny way experience, what the effects of a nuclear bomb are, with the understanding that if one knows, one will do everything one can to prevent it from ever happening again. Pellegrino makes a few missteps--given the hundreds of stories to tell, it's not surprising, and working in his friend James Cameron and 9/11 both seemed awkward and forced, and a list of the primary characters at the front of the book would have been a valuable reference. But Pellegrino proves to be a dependable and compassionate storyteller, and at times, poetic. The book contains illustrations of the survivors and of the scenes of destruction. He could have used photographs, but the simple, sometimes charming drawings prove to be more evocative and in keeping with the spirit of the book--it's the survivors' words and memories that matter. One remarkable thing is that the survivors, almost uniformly, became advocates not for revenge, but for peace. Having lived through the bomb, many dedicated their lives to make certain there would never be another. And that, ultimately, is the purpose of the book: to bear witness, so that the past doesn't repeat itself. So no, the stories are not comfortable. If you are like me, there will be times you want to look away. Try not to. There are few survivors remaining. Their stories can't be forgotten.

  20. 5 out of 5

    R K

    You know those moments in films where everything becomes silent and slow motion? It usually occurs when something momentous is about to happen.They are moments that get ingrained in our heads due to the execution style. Well, this entire book is that scene. This is a new and interesting take on non-fiction. Rather then just go through the facts and organize it in some way, Charles Pellegrino decided to make an almost documentary to the moments before, during, and after the dropping of the Hirosh You know those moments in films where everything becomes silent and slow motion? It usually occurs when something momentous is about to happen.They are moments that get ingrained in our heads due to the execution style. Well, this entire book is that scene. This is a new and interesting take on non-fiction. Rather then just go through the facts and organize it in some way, Charles Pellegrino decided to make an almost documentary to the moments before, during, and after the dropping of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. We follow the lives of multiple people including the men involved with the dropping of the bomb and those involved with the decision to surrender. We learn what they experienced during the bomb droppings, along with how the bombs actually worked. Turns out that the bombs exploded before touching around, but since these were nuclear bombs, the light emitted was already deadly. Radiation and heat spread like rapid fire, incinerating those who were fully exposed, leaving behind only an outline of where they were. Other's were burnt due to being exposed while wearing black as black absorbs light. Once reaching ground, fire worms sprung out, buildings were decimated, towns simply gone, people gone, life gone. Review Continued Here

  21. 4 out of 5

    james

    The title is confusing since the story deals with the survivors of the atomic attack on Hiroshima. Several survivors managed to get on a train to safety, or so they thought. The train went to Nagasaki. Train service was quickly restored. The title makes the reader think that the train was the last BEFORE the attack. The author presents the stories of several Japanese who somehow survived both the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and the plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki. I learned some intere The title is confusing since the story deals with the survivors of the atomic attack on Hiroshima. Several survivors managed to get on a train to safety, or so they thought. The train went to Nagasaki. Train service was quickly restored. The title makes the reader think that the train was the last BEFORE the attack. The author presents the stories of several Japanese who somehow survived both the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and the plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki. I learned some interesting historical facts: there was an accident with the first bomb as it was being prepared for loading. As a result the Hiroshima bomb was a partial dud; the Nagasaki bomb was 2.5 to 3 times more power as a result. There is also a great deal about the political aspects, especially in the upper level of the Japanese military. They weren't concerned and tended to discount the reports from scientists who inspected the sites after the attacks. Furthermore, they figured, correctly as it turned out, that there were no more atomic boms in existence. But after the 2nd bomb the Emperor ordered the surrender. Even then, several fanatics wanted to continue the war. Lots of interesting stuff in this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anne Van

    This book is both horrifying and fascinating in equal measures. I only became aware of the controversy surrounding this book after reading it, and it doesn't change my opinion of the book at all. (The publishers withdrew the book earlier in the year because one of the two dozen or so atom bomb survivors that he mentions very briefly in a paragraph or two apparently could not be verified and the author is referred to as "Dr. Pellegrino" and apparently no PhD. rewarded. Well, I don't know......... This book is both horrifying and fascinating in equal measures. I only became aware of the controversy surrounding this book after reading it, and it doesn't change my opinion of the book at all. (The publishers withdrew the book earlier in the year because one of the two dozen or so atom bomb survivors that he mentions very briefly in a paragraph or two apparently could not be verified and the author is referred to as "Dr. Pellegrino" and apparently no PhD. rewarded. Well, I don't know.........not good, certainly. But, the book is important and powerful. The author compiles the written and oral accounts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors from the Ground Zero of each bomb and reconstructs a second-by-second, then minute-by-minute, then day-by-day of what happened. This is interlaced with accounts about the American pilots who dropped the bombs. It does seem like "This Not Just In" reporting, but the structure does become cumbersome. The book ends with a brief look back at the survivors' lives from the present, and gets a little preachy about world peace and "love everybody".

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I was wandering through some community books and found this. I could not stop reading it. The focus was on survivors of both atomic bombs. A group had taken a train from Hiroshima to Nagasaki to save themselves but found themselves again under pika-don (flash-blast). The description of tragedy is immense but there is also hope. At the end of the book, Mr. Pellegrino's description of those who tried to teach that war is human fault and that revenge begets revenge is an ancient and universal lesson I was wandering through some community books and found this. I could not stop reading it. The focus was on survivors of both atomic bombs. A group had taken a train from Hiroshima to Nagasaki to save themselves but found themselves again under pika-don (flash-blast). The description of tragedy is immense but there is also hope. At the end of the book, Mr. Pellegrino's description of those who tried to teach that war is human fault and that revenge begets revenge is an ancient and universal lesson. One quote was especially striking: "Masahiro recalled that a scientist once told a theologian, "We are the sum of what we remember." And the theologian responded, "No. We are HOW we remember." p. 318. NOTE: On checking a review of the book, I found the following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last... The publisher of the book withdraw its support when they found discrepancies in Pellegrino's biography (no PhD) and possibly over-stating some of the people about whom he spoke. However, the editor of the book said he had checked many of the reports and found them accurate.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    After hearing a review of this book on NPR over the winter, I wanted to read it. The first few pages are a scientific description of what happens to the human body when an atomic bomb is detonated. The book goes on to describe in great detail the bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nine people who survived both blasts, the aftermath of firestorms and "Disease X.". Tales of lucky (?) survivors in both cities are told, as well as how their stories intertwine. The horrible truths of being n After hearing a review of this book on NPR over the winter, I wanted to read it. The first few pages are a scientific description of what happens to the human body when an atomic bomb is detonated. The book goes on to describe in great detail the bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nine people who survived both blasts, the aftermath of firestorms and "Disease X.". Tales of lucky (?) survivors in both cities are told, as well as how their stories intertwine. The horrible truths of being near the bomb's "hypocenter" and the ramifications of being in the concentric circles of death surrounding the cities are fully explained. The gruesome graphic descriptions are not gratuitous; understanding the devastation is vital to forming opinions about nuclear weapons. I learned so much from this book: the men who dropped the bombs, MacArthur's censorship regarding the bombings; Japan's political and military attitudes toward surrender; the ability of a people to heal. This is an unbelievably powerful book and one to be remembered so that the past is not repeated.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kim Song

    This is an excellent book about Hiroshima and Nagasaki based on true accounts of survivors and double survivors. Every page is extraordinarily interesting and the tales are seamlessly interwoven. The content is very disturbing, however the reality was disturbing. Everyone should read this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shane Ford

    Absolutely haunting. I'm not sure that I can adequately describe my feelings after reading it yet. This should be required reading for any and all politicians that reach power at a national level. Anyone with the power to cast a vote for arms control, anyone in a position to cast a vote for war. This covers the aspects of the bombings we don't talk about in our history classes, and the stories that have since become statistics in our debates. It's easy to forget the abject suffering of those unf Absolutely haunting. I'm not sure that I can adequately describe my feelings after reading it yet. This should be required reading for any and all politicians that reach power at a national level. Anyone with the power to cast a vote for arms control, anyone in a position to cast a vote for war. This covers the aspects of the bombings we don't talk about in our history classes, and the stories that have since become statistics in our debates. It's easy to forget the abject suffering of those unfortunate enough to be in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but after reading this it's really impossible to forget. I learned a lot about the way the bomb killed, both milliseconds after detonation and decades later in the cancers it caused. In a morbid way it was fascinating to hear the author breakdown exactly what was happening fractions of a second after fission began all the way through to days later and the effects it had on the trees, flies, atmosphere, buildings, and of course the people. I can only hope that this book gets as wide an audience as is possible, because these people deserve to have their stories told. The horrors they lived through shouldn't be forgotten by history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

    I found this book so impactful that I needed to re-listen to the audio book with my wife who is from Japan. I got much more detail out of it the second time and we both agreed this is one of the best books about the atomic bombings, the impact for people on the ground, the aircrews, the aftermath in Japan and around the world. I am now searching for another book mentioned in this one written by Takashi Nagai, a doctor of radiology who was on the ground during the bombing called The Bells of Naga I found this book so impactful that I needed to re-listen to the audio book with my wife who is from Japan. I got much more detail out of it the second time and we both agreed this is one of the best books about the atomic bombings, the impact for people on the ground, the aircrews, the aftermath in Japan and around the world. I am now searching for another book mentioned in this one written by Takashi Nagai, a doctor of radiology who was on the ground during the bombing called The Bells of Nagasaki: A Message of Hope from a Witness, a Doctor that was also made into a movie of the same name. __________________________________________________________ I've read quite a few books about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII including some on the development of the bombs, the crews that dropped them, people on the ground who experienced and survived them, and the aftermath. But when I read The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back by Charles Pellegrino, I felt like I had just discovered a new topic. The author shares first-hand accounts from the crews and inhabitants who experienced the bombings, but this one is much more raw and graphic in the descriptions such that you can almost smell and visualize what it was like. He also follows closely the stories of several people who, after surviving Hiroshima, traveled to the safety of Nagasaki in time to experience the second atomic bombing. And one who survived both of those was in New York during the 9/11 attacks that took him right back to Japan. He said he does not consider himself a victim, but rather a survivor and holds no grudge for what had happened during the War. The stories included here are very stark and very poignant including the psychological impact on the flight crews and people American military who were early on the scene after the war to assess the damage and help with medical treatments. If you think you've read enough about this topic and haven't read this book, you're not done yet! I only wish there were a once a year 6th star to add to a rating!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kiyoko

    This was a riveting and personal account of individuals who experienced first-hand the atomic bombs dropped in Japan.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mandi Murphy

    I generally reserve the five star rating for books that I read more than one time. This book made my mind work almost from the moment I picked it up and left me feeling deeply touched so I am making an exception. I can hardly organize my thoughts enough to write down what I thought about it, what I learned from it, or how it made me feel. Firstly,let me say that I am aware of the scandal that surrounded the writing of the first edition of this book. Though my library only had the first edition, I generally reserve the five star rating for books that I read more than one time. This book made my mind work almost from the moment I picked it up and left me feeling deeply touched so I am making an exception. I can hardly organize my thoughts enough to write down what I thought about it, what I learned from it, or how it made me feel. Firstly,let me say that I am aware of the scandal that surrounded the writing of the first edition of this book. Though my library only had the first edition, I went to Pellegrino's website and read the forward from the second edition. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and I agreed with what he said about placing value on the experiences of those who lived through the horrors of the nuclear bombs. So I simply tried to keep in mind that one particular source was bad and appreciate the rest. All of the stories touched me, particularly the ones involving children. Some truly remarkable people lived through that time, only one example of which is Masahiro Sasaki who only a few short years ago told a child that he couldn't remember what country dropped the atomic bomb. He went on to tell the audience the boy was a part of that it was not only one country's problem, it belonged to the whole world. The science Pellegrino includes was a little overwhelming for me and my little brain. Still, I managed to get the jest of it and to see why it was essential to the story. Pellegrino is a good story teller. I usually prefer to read biographies and histories written for youth because I find the writing in your average history so dry. But I couldn't put this book down. He even clues you in to the origins of spider-man which I found very cool. As a youth, I didn't understand the meaning of the word "nuke", and therefore tended to use it in a variety of phrases. Now that I do understand it I will make sure my kids do, too. I don't want them to make a mockery of something so horrible in their ignorance the way I did in mine.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason Schneeberger

    Thanks to Rowan & Littlefield Trade and Netgalley for providing me with this advanced reader copy for review. The official release date is August 4th 2015! Having never read anything about the atrocity of what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, this book was more than an eye opening experience for me. Going minute by minute of what happened, leading up to the atomic bombing and all of the horrendous things the survivors when through afterwards, I found it really hard to wrap Thanks to Rowan & Littlefield Trade and Netgalley for providing me with this advanced reader copy for review. The official release date is August 4th 2015! Having never read anything about the atrocity of what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, this book was more than an eye opening experience for me. Going minute by minute of what happened, leading up to the atomic bombing and all of the horrendous things the survivors when through afterwards, I found it really hard to wrap my head around many things that this book describes. Not because it was hard to understand from a reading stand point, but it is hard to understand how mankind as a whole can reach such a level of hate that they would do such a thing to one another. I have seen the black and white videos from the test footage that the US government shot from the test bomb dropped in a New Mexico desert just prior to the Japanese bombing, but I had no idea what an atomic bomb does to people. Some of the things described in this book sounds like it’s straight out of a sci-fi horror movie, but it’s much worse because it’s all true and actually happened. From people with skin literally falling off of their bodies to gigantic fire tornadoes being spawned from the chemicals in the air, the atomic bombings of Japan in 1945 are worse than a nightmare come to life. It was truly hell on earth. This book should be mandatory reading in this day and age of countries trying to acquire nuclear devices. It’s really scary to think of something like this ever happening again and we need to do everything in our power to prevent such a tragedy from occurring. This book is sad, it’s tragic, but its moment by moment depiction, culled from survivor’s testimonies and over 70 years of research, lays the entire event out for every reader to understand just how horrible this bombing truly was. I give this book 4/5!

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