JUNE 18, 1955
NEW YORK—I have just read a new book called "Hiroshima Diary," the journal of a Japanese physician from August 5, 1945, to September 30, 1945.
Dr. Michihiko Hachiya, who kept this diary, was the director of an important hospital in Hiroshima. He was himself wounded in the blast and his hospital was partly demolished by the fire that followed. To every American reader this book will bring some of the horror of what dropping the first atomic bomb meant.
It was an unknown weapon then and those who suffered from it, like Dr. Hachiya, not only coped with many day-to-day physical needs but were overwhelmed by the scientific mystery of a weapon they knew nothing about and whose effects they had never heard of and could not gauge.
It is a book written with an extraordinary lack of bitterness, and one must marvel at the doctor's reflection of the human spirit, its nobility and strength under such terrific pressures.
To me it has been a painful book to read, but that is because I still have the feeling that I had the day I spent in Hiroshima when I felt that all about me death was still a companion. But there is in this book not only horror but tenderness, gentleness and compassion and power to forget to blame in the overpowering need to help.
Dr. Warner Wells, who translated this book with the help of a Nisei colleague, became a friend of Dr. Hachiya while he was in Hiroshima as surgical consultant to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in 1950. He returned to this country in 1952 and put his translation into shape for publication in the spare time he could steal from his duties as a staff member of the teaching hospital of the University of North Carolina. The final draft was ready in December, 1954, and now the book is published by Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina Press.
I cannot promise you enjoyment because I think you will suffer when you read this book, but interest you will surely find. And perhaps you will also find a greater incentive to fight for better understanding and a removal of the possibility of war, which could bring us situations a hundred times more devastating than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
If you read this book without feeling that one of our first duties is to use the United Nations since it is the only instrument we have where people can be brought together to work for peace and harmony, I shall be much surprised.
There are still people in this country who think we can return to the days when we had no meeting place for world representatives, when we thought it was possible to live in isolation.
This book will give them an idea of what such thinking might bring us, and there may be more willingness to strengthen, rather than to throw away, the machinery created in the U.N.