August 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
According to many commentators our understanding of the horror of these events was fundamentally shaped by the writings of war correspondent John Hershey which was published in a special issue of the New Yorker magazine on August 31, 1946 . The Independent referred to it as the definitive account which revealed the true cost of nuclear warfare. It has also been discussed on the Conversation blog
The full text of the article can currently be read free online via the New Yorker website
Other journalist and writers had written about Hiroshima what was distinctive about the New Yorker was its focus upon 6 eye witness stories. This humanised the horror as we see the way in which an ordinary day becomes a nightmare that extends into the future. The New Yorker maximised the impact by removing all its regular features- cartoons and reviews, choosing to focus solely on this issue.
It is very interesting to compare the coverage with other contemporary newspapers.
the Times on August 7th (LSE times Digital archive log in) begins with the headline First Atomic Bomb Hits Japan. After a brief paragraph describing the dropping of the bomb it contains a statement fro the government concerning the scientific advances and collaboration in developing them with the USA. The coverage of the science expresses awe and wonder but to a certain extent fear . It refers to the 'revelation of the secrets of nature long mercifully withheld from man' and the need to pray that that 'these awful agencies' are used to induce peace.
on the 8th August in an article entitled darkness over Hiroshima the paper reveals the continuing dust and destruction and continues to debate again the science. It quotes scientists from the Royal Society the need for humanity to bear the burden of its own power and to use nuclear science to peaceful ends. In fact it is revealed as a potential saviour with the ability of bestowing 'undreamed of riches on all men '
LSE staff and students can search for other similar articles in our historic newspaper digital archives. We have the Times, Daily Mail and Guardian online
For more commemorations see CNN's picture gallery of the survivor's artifacts
See the Hiroshima Peace museum for a virtual tour and peace education sources
Just released is the Hiroshima Digital archive Hiroshima Archive. displaying on a map materials gained from such sources as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Hiroshima Jogakuin Gaines Association, and the Hachioji Hibakusha (A-bomb Survivors) Association. Beyond time and space, the user can get a panoramic view over Hiroshima to browse survivors’ accounts, photos, maps, and other materials as of 1945, together with aerial photos, 3D topographical data.
See the full items on the website