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Comments

Penny

This is such a compelling review of Black Rain. It takes some effort to process books of this nature, at least for me. I'm not sure when or if I will read this, but, I will put it on my TBR list. I can still vividly remember reading Hiroshima by Hersey in high school. It stayed with me long, long after the book ended and parts of it I can remember still. As uncomfortable as these books can be, it is important to read them and understand the horrors of war and of such a weapon. Thank you for reviewing this.

Danielle

Penny--There is certainly lots to think about with this book and lots more I could have written. I was sort of dreading writing about it but it all came much easier than I expected. It's a good book and I do recommend it, but I think you have to be in the right mood for a book like this and know what to expect. I've seen John Hersey's book mentioned in other reviews and will have to add it to my own wishlist. Although I think I won't want to read another book about Hiroshima for a while, I'd like to try that one sometime, too. You're right that these books are uncomfortable, but they do need to be read and talked about--otherwise we just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Jeane

I once had this book on my shelf, many years ago. I tried to read it a few times and did not get far, in fact it was pretty incomprehensible to me. I think I was too young for it at the time. I've seen another blogger review of it recently that sparked my interest and now yours too, has made me want to find and pick it up again.

Caroline

I can imagine that beineg American adds another dimension to it all. I've had comments on my movie blog once by Americans who thunk it was justified to end the war like that. I had momenets in the past during which I was wondering if it wasn't given the fact that Japan didn't want to stop the war at all but the more I read, the less I can agree with this idiotical thinking. No, it was not justified. It really wasn't.
I must say part of the shock reading this book came from the fact that I had no idea. No idea bout the details and the enormity of it all. I think one of the best parts is how he captures the utter confusion.
It will stay with me as well. I even had to skip a few passages, i couldn't take it all.
Yes, pick another Japanese author. Banana Yoshimoto is an excellent starting point if you don't know her yet.
Thanks, as alwqys for joining. Rise has written a very nice review as well. Like you he makes the connection - nuclear power/atomic bomb.

scriptorsenex

I read the first couple of sentences and decided it wasn't for me. I think one reaches an age (or at least I have) where disturbing subjects become something to avoid and yet some of the best novels I have read in the past few years have been about disturbing subjects - war, the treatment of women in Afghanistan etc. There is something about them that once picked up makes for compelling reading and allows good authors to really reach their peak.

smithereens

You're very courageous to have tackled this book and the review! I have tried to read it many years ago but I kept skipping pages because I found it unbearable. I should try it again, but frankly I'm a bit discouraged.

litlove

This is an excellent review, but I know this sort of book is beyond me at the moment. Well done you for having the courage to read and write about it!

catharina

Every now and then it takes courage to pick up and read a certain book. This is one of them for me. I think your review very impressive.

Stefanie

This sounds like a difficult and good book. I've not read any books specifically about the bombs but I have read a few in which the bombs had an impact on the story. I have read articles and seen photos of the aftermath in both cities and they never fail to make me cry.

Aarti

Excellent review of what was clearly a very difficult book. As Americans, I think it's important we read books about how much people suffered from the atomic bomb. There was recently a Radiolab podcast that mentioned a man that survived both bombs - I recommend it!

Danielle

I'm not sure I would have chosen to pick this one up when I was younger or been able to get through it either. It did take some perseverance, and I could only read a bit at a time, but I am glad that I read it. I think there might be several people reading this one at the moment for Caroline's readalong. I'm curious to read other reviews as well.

Danielle

I've not read much about this at all and really should read more (from a straightforward historical perspective), but I think there was a lot of propaganda at the time--very dehumanizing towards the Japanese/enemy--really awful stuff (I'm sure there is/was loads of that sort of thing in any case during wars), which made it more acceptable to think it was "okay" to do this to end the war. As if somehow dropping the bomb was the only way to end the war and stop even more bloodshed, but I can't believe there were not other alternatives. Was the effects of the bombs just not known before hand? It's all very distressing to think about, which is partially why I've not picked up books about it before hand. Eventually I'd like to read the Hersey book, too, which was written by an American, which might put an interesting spin on things. I only had a very general idea about what happened, but there were scenes (even though they were presented very matter of factly) that made me queasy! I read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto a very long time ago and will have to pick up another of her books--my library has a couple I think. This did, however, put me in the mood to read more Japanese literature, so that's a good result. I still need to finish Bomber and want to read the rest of the books as well--it's good to sometimes read outside my comfort zone and books that I might not otherwise have chosen. It may take me until the weekend to catch up on blog posts, but I will check out Rise's review as well-I saw the link on your post and will be back soon to read it properly!

Danielle

Scriptorsenex--For me the books I avoid are the ones that are about contemporary events like what's going on in Afghanistan or what happened on 9/11 (though you would think that enough time now has passed for that event) as it all seems a little too "fresh" to me. I need to be more daring about reading books about what is happening now, but seeing so much of that on the news sometimes-I don't want it to cross over into my fiction (which I generally equate with pleasure reading). You're right, though, they are sometimes the best reads!

Danielle

I wasn't so sure I was going to manage either to be honest. Isn't it amazing what a book can do?! It's not a pleasant read by any means, and not helped by the unusual narrative style, as there isn't really much of a story really--so there is not much respite from the suffering of it all. I suppose that is part of the power of it, though?

Danielle

This is one you really have to be in the right frame of mind for, I agree. I'm not sure I would have picked it up otherwise, though, so the readalong prompted me to stick it out. Am definitely in need of lighter reading now, though.

Danielle

I'd not thought about it like that, but you know, you're really right about that. Some books are really very hard--not only challenging for the style but for the content. That was certainly the case with this one.

Danielle

Yes, both difficult and good. It was a challenge and I am glad I stuck it out! I've read about Japanese internment in the US during the war and lots of other WWII books but this is the first from a Japanese perspective for me--very eye opening. I'm not sure I could manage to look at any photos--I'm sure I would end up crying as well. All very disheartening.

Danielle

Thanks, Aarti. Strangely the post ended up being easier to write than I thought after all was said and done. I think reading books like this should be required in history classes--lots of different perspectives--and certainly eyewitness accounts--should be read by students. I'll have to look for that podcast--thanks for the heads up. It's unimaginable that anyone would have been present for *both* bombs!

pburt

My husband ordered this for me via ILL and then forgot to pick it up so it is on reorder. Have you read Hiroshima In The Morning? When it discusses Hiroshima and the bombing it is very moving. Her angst as a mother - not so much. I am still conflicted by the memoir and have not managed to blog about it.

Liz F

I admire the fact that you read and blog about books like this - I know I couldn't.
The results of the atomic bombs were horrific and I suspect that very few people had any idea of what the after effects and consequences would be.
I have my doubts about nuclear power too - I can't see the good in something which has an end product that will still be lethal after hundreds of years.

Tony

Great review :) This is one I'll have to try soon. My home town was also bombed in the war (as we read earlier this year!), but not to this extent. Still, it's a sombre reminder of the horrors of war...

Judith

A thought-provoking, comprehensive review, Danielle, which I enjoyed reading. I'm glad you read the book because your blog has such a huge following.

I agree with you that novels and nonfiction depicting contemporary horrors are harder to read about. In fact, I have almost an aversion to novels about modern terrorism, no matter how well-acclaimed they may be.

Thank you, again, for maintaining and regularly writing posts on such a fascinating blog.

Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

Danielle

I also borrowed the Ibuse from the library--we seem to have most of the books on Caroline's list, so I've lucked out on that end and can just pull them from the shelf (if I'm lucky that is and no one else has grabbed them first). I have not read Hiroshima in the Morning--I took a peek at it on Amazon and it seems to have gotten very mixed reviews. The Ibuse is the first book I've even read about Hiroshima--I would like to read more, but I think I will need a little time before I pick up another book about it. I'll be curious to read your review of the Rizzuto book. Maybe she tried to accomplish too much in one book?

Danielle

I'm glad I read this, but I definitely couldn't read a steady stream of books like this--that's for sure! I know they tested the bombs in the desert here, but obviously far away from any population, so maybe they really didn't know just how bad the outcome would be? I've never been a proponent of nuclear power--I think it's just asking for trouble!

Danielle

Thanks, Tony. This was hard going, but it has made me want to read more Japanese literature! The more I read about WWII--from this sort of perspective makes me realize just how unimaginable it must have been for the people who were trying to live through it. Coventry (though a very different book) reminded me of last year's Boll book, The Silent Angel--all that devastation would have been surreal to live amongst.

Danielle

Thanks so much for the kind words about my post and my blog, Judith. Writing about what I read helps sort things out in my mind and it's always nice to be able to chat about books with others--comments are my favorite part of all this! I wasn't sure when I was reading if I would be able to write about it--it's such a difficult topic, but I am glad that I read the book and tried to sort it all out in my mind. It is a heavy topic, but I think it's one that should occasionally be thought about and discussed. I can't read books about contemporary events, even though I know there are some really good ones out there. I'm glad to hear I am not the only one who tends to avoid them (though I know I should probably try and read more of them).

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