Nagasaki : Life After Nuclear War

4.26 (1,363 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days
When will my order arrive?


On August 9th, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
It killed a third of the population instantly, and the survivors, or hibakusha, would be affected by the life-altering medical conditions caused by the radiation for the rest of their lives. They were also marked with the stigma of their exposure to radiation, and fears of the consequences for their children.
Nagasaki follows the previously unknown stories of five survivors and their families, from 1945 to the present day. It captures the full range of pain, fear, bravery and compassion unleashed by the destruction of a city.
Susan Southard has interviewed the hibakusha over many years and her intimate portraits of their lives show the consequences of nuclear war. Nagasaki tells the neglected story of life after nuclear war and will help shape public debate over one of the most controversial wartime acts in history.
Published for the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, this is the first study to be based on eye-witness accounts of Nagasaki in the style of John Hersey's Hiroshima.

On August 9th, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, a 5-tonne plutonium bomb was dropped on the small, coastal city of Nagasaki. The explosion destroyed factories, shops and homes and killed 74,000 people while injuring another 75,000. The two atomic bombs marked the end of a global war but for the tens of thousands of survivors it was the beginning of a new life marked with the stigma of being hibakusha (atomic bomb-affected people). Susan Southard has spent a decade interviewing and researching the lives of the hibakusha, raw, emotive eye-witness accounts, which reconstruct the days, months and years after the bombing, the isolation of their hospitalisation and recovery, the difficulty of re-entering daily life and the enduring impact of life as the only people in history who have lived through a nuclear attack and its aftermath. Following five teenage survivors from 1945 to the present day Southard unveils the lives they have led, their injuries in the annihilation of the bomb, the dozens of radiation-related cancers and illnesses they have suffered, the humiliating and frightening choices about marriage they were forced into as a result of their fears of the genetic diseases that may be passed through their families for generations to come. The power of Nagasaki lies in the detail of the survivors' stories, as deaths continued for decades because of the radiation contamination, which caused various forms of cancer. Intimate and compassionate, while being grounded in historical research Nagasaki reveals the censorship that kept the suffering endured by the hibakusha hidden around the world. For years after the bombings news reports and scientific research were censored by U.S. occupation forces and the U.S. government led an efficient campaign to justify the necessity and morality of dropping the bombs. As we pass the seventieth anniversary of the only atomic bomb attacks in history Susan Southard captures the full range of pain, fear, bravery and compassion unleashed by the destruction of a city. The personal stories of those who survived beneath the mushroom clouds will transform the abstract perception of nuclear war into a visceral human experience. Nagasaki tells the neglected story of life after nuclear war and will help shape public discussion and debate over one of the most controversial wartime acts in history.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 125 x 210 x 20mm | 430g
  • Souvenir Press Ltd
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • Maps and 55 black and white photographs
  • 0285643827
  • 9780285643826
  • 826,516

Review quote

Politicians debating the nuclear deal with Iran would do well to spend some time with Southard's 'Nagasaki'. It does not tell us what to do. It only reminds us of the stakes. -- Washington Post * . * Susan Southard's remarkable book... This is indeed a topical but enduringly relevant testament and one that should be read as widely as possible. -- Jeremy Corbyn * . * Our time to understand the survivors' experience of nuclear war is running out. Only they can tell us what it was like and their lives are coming to an end. -- New York Times * . * Does for Nagasaki what John Hersey did for Hiroshima... Takes us beneath the mushroom cloud with harrowing, damning, eloquent intimacy. -- John W. Dower * Pulitzer-winning author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII * It is the personal accounts that speak loudest. -- The Economist * . * Moving as an intimate chronicle of individual lives: like a good documentary film-maker, Southard allows her subjects, with all their attractive and quirky qualities, to speak for themselves. -- Financial Times * . * Provides the material and personal stories of one of the darkest days in human history... One of the definitive histories of the end of World War II. Essential. -- Library Journal * . * An amazing, heart-wrenching book. -- Books Please Blog * . * This book takes you to the heart of one of the most devastating events in human history... The research is impeccable... An intimate and heartbreaking portrayal of one of the most horrific war time acts. -- The Book Trail * . *
show more

About Susan Southard

Susan Southard is the founder of Essential Theatre, an ensemble of artists who work for social change across the United States. She has taught creative writing at the University of Arizona and been a Nonfiction Fellow at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony.
show more

Rating details

1,363 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 46% (631)
4 37% (509)
3 13% (183)
2 2% (27)
1 1% (13)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X