Hiroshima: City on Fire
If you think a nuclear war would be a good idea, or even if you don’t, you should read this book.
The atomic bomb was first used in warfare on the morning of August 6, 1945, when it was dropped from a high-altitude U.S. aircraft on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb was the culmination of several years of work by U.S. scientists, and many involved with the project weren’t even sure if it would work.
It worked. Hiroshima had a population of 245,000. About 100,000 died, and another 100,000 were injured (and most of them would suffer from varying degrees of radiation sickness for the rest of their lives). The blast destroyed everything at ground zero, and the shock waves and heat collapsed buildings and set fires for miles around. Three days later, since the first bomb apparently didn’t convince the Japanese Emperor to surrender, the Americans dropped an A-Bomb on Nagasaki. Apparently, that convinced the Emperor, and World War II ended.
American journalist John Hersey interviewed many of the survivors and published Hiroshima in 1946. Nearly 40 years later he returned to Japan to interview those still living and the relatives of those who were not, and he added a final chapter–The Aftermath–to a new edition of his book, published in 1985.
Several things we must remember if we ever catch ourselves thinking that a nuclear war wouldn’t be so bad:
- The Hiroshima bomb was a fart in the wind compared to the A-Bombs we have now; after seven decades of research and development, humankind has developed bombs a thousand times more destructive than that first feeble attempt, and today’s bombs don’t have to be dropped from airplanes–we have missiles now.
- In 1945, the U.S. was the only country in possession of an A-Bomb; now there are many (the latest count, I believe, is 24), and if we start lobbing A-Bombs around, we are likely to piss off some of those countries who, in turn, will start lobbing A-Bombs around.
- We have a president who, in a one-hour foreign policy briefing, allegedly asked three times why we shouldn’t use nuclear weapons, as long as we’ve got them.
- If a full-scale or even a partial nuclear war breaks out, we won’t be able to watch it unfold on our TV’s, laptops or phones from the security of our comfy living rooms the way we can watch overseas wars now; the war will be brought home for us to experience in all of its fire and glory.
I think it’s highly likely that Donald Trump, given his temperament and unpreparedness for the job of Commander In Chief, will drop an A-bomb on a civilian population. The question is when will he drop it and on whom.
Albert Einstein said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Given the destructive power of today’s A-Bombs, there might not be anyone left alive to fight World War IV.