The best books about Hiroshima

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Hiroshima and why they recommend each book.

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Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

By Ronald Himler, Eleanor Coerr,

Book cover of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Sadako Sasaki was a real child, one who survived the bombing of Hiroshima but who died from its aftereffects a number of years later. Hospitalized and terminally ill, she folded origami cranes, hoping magically, and fruitlessly, that they would bring her luck and save her life. A statue of Sadako stands outside of the Peace Museum in Hiroshima; I visited there a few years ago and was reminded again of the tragedy of war.

Who am I?

I’d like to say I have no expertise in this topic. And yet…don’t we all?  We’ve all lived through it. I was born in 1937—in Honolulu, the daughter of a US Army officer. WW II was a pervasive part of my childhood, as my father spent time in the Pacific and then after the war ended, we lived in Occupied Japan for some years.  But war had always been a part of my family’s history, as is true for so many people. My great grandfather left a written account of his capture and imprisonment during the Civil War.  And much more recently, my own son, an Air Force pilot, died in the cockpit of a F-15.  Ironically, he had married a German wife, and he is buried in her village cemetery near her grandfather, who served on the Russian front years earlier.  His child, my granddaughter, puts flowers on both of those graves. All of these pieces of my own history combine, I think, to create this passion I have for the telling and retelling of stories that can make us more aware of the futility of war.

I wrote...

On the Horizon

By Lois Lowry, Kenard Pak,

Book cover of On the Horizon

What is my book about?

Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this stunning work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Based on the lives of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and civilians in Hiroshima, On the Horizon contemplates humanity and war through verse that sings with pain, truth, and the importance of bridging cultural divides. This masterful work emphasizes empathy and understanding in search of commonality and friendship, vital lessons for students as well as citizens of today's world. Kenard Pak's stunning illustrations depict real-life people, places, and events, making for an incredibly vivid return to our collective past.


By John Hersey,

Book cover of Hiroshima

Originally published in the New Yorker, this is a first-hand account by a skillful reporter of the horrifying aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. Hershey interviews a selection of survivors and takes his reader into the city to see the devastation that the bomb wrought. Hersey portrays the resilience of the Japanese people and their ability to come together as a community to face the unimaginable with courage and resolve.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by family histories, and am the self-selected historian in my family. I wrote my mother’s memoir, I Turned a Key and the Birds Began to Sing, put together a newsletter for aunts, uncles, and cousins near and far, and became a ghostwriter to help other people mine their personal and family stories. I’ve worked with company CEOs, survivors of the Holocaust; World War II U.S. veterans, and Hollywood celebrities. In the midst of writing books for other people I turned my sights on my husband who was born in Osaka, Japan and asked his permission to write his family’s story.  

I wrote...

All Sorrows Can Be Borne

By Loren Stephens,

Book cover of All Sorrows Can Be Borne

What is my book about?

Inspired by my husband’s family history, All Sorrows is a historical novel whose heroine, Noriko Ito, takes center stage. Surviving the bombing of Hiroshima, she dreams of becoming an actress. Her hopes are dashed and she ends up a waitress in a fancy tearoom in the Namba district of Osaka, where she meets and marries the mysterious and handsome manager. She gives birth to a little boy. During her pregnancy, her husband is diagnosed with tuberculosis. Unable to hold down a job, he forces Noriko to give up their only son to a couple living in the badlands of Montana. One sorrow after another piles up and Noriko regrets ever having agreed to this decision. 

Some eighteen years later – long after her husband dies – she is reunited with her son. Her son, Hiroshi, is my husband. In writing this book I uncovered family secrets that are woven into the novel. 

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

By Fumiyo Kouno,

Book cover of Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

I first heard of Kouno’s work through the animated adaptation of In This Corner of the World. Town of Evening Calm and Country of Cherry Blossoms are a short story and short series (respectively) about Hiroshima. Like many other shojo/josei artists, Kouno uses the natural world to impart tone and mood, but is particularly good at it.

Who am I?

Environmental storytelling in comics is something that I’ve always admired and want to be better at. As a cartoonist I’m always thinking of better ways to tell visual stories, because it’s fun.

I wrote...

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab

By Priya Huq,

Book cover of Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab

What is my book about?

When Nisrin Moniruzzaman and her friend Firuzeh are attacked for wearing shalwar kameez in public, Nisrin decides she wants to wear hijab. Her Bangladeshi family is upset and confused… why does she want to make things harder for herself? Nisrin handles freshman year at a new school and both new and old relationships while dealing with her own trauma… as well as her family’s.

Survivor Café

By Elizabeth Rosner,

Book cover of Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory

Back in the late ‘80s, I was at a small gathering of daughters of Holocaust survivors and next to me sat Elizabeth Rosner. As we each said something about our family’s history, Liz read a poem about her survivor father that vibrated with such resonance with me, and I knew I was in the presence of a gifted writer. Rosner went on to publish poetry and novels, and in this work of non-fiction that is lyrically and evocatively written, she confronts personal history and its aftermath while also exploring similar legacies of descendants of other atrocities that have left their multigenerational impact. Her “Alphabet of Inadequate Language” is alone worth the price of admission.

Who am I?

I am a member of a generation that wasn’t supposed to be born. My parents were Hungarian Holocaust survivors and I was born amidst the fragments of European Jewry that remained. As a psychotherapist, I have specialized in helping people navigate the multigenerational reverberations of the Holocaust. Having a witness to your own experience, in therapy and through books, provides comfort, understanding, and hope.

I wrote...

Legacy of Rescue: A Daughter's Tribute

By Marta Fuchs,

Book cover of Legacy of Rescue: A Daughter's Tribute

What is my book about?

This intergenerational memoir tells the story of my father, Morton (Miksa) Fuchs, and his rescuer, Zoltán Kubinyi, the Hungarian Army Officer who defied Nazi orders and saved 140 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. The book includes photos, Holocaust testimony, meeting the rescuer’s family, my childhood memories and escape in the wake of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and reflections by the third generation in my family.

"You may think you have read everything you ever wanted to hear about this era; but you will find this book will stir you to tears, and inspire you with courage.” (John F. Duge, PhD, MD)


By Jesse Duffield,

Book cover of Japan: A Travel Guide for Vegans

I hesitate to recommend vegan guidebooks about specific destinations, because in most cases I find them unnecessary. If all you need are listings of veg-friendly restaurants, that kind of info is generally best found on the Internet or on apps like HappyCow, as it changes so quickly.

Japan, however, is one destination where it’s really helpful to have some background info about the local language and culture as it applies to vegan travel. Jesse Duffield has made multiple trips to Japan and offers insights that most foreign tourists simply wouldn’t know about.

The traditional food eaten in Japan is largely plant-based, and yet it can be surprisingly difficult to avoid hidden animal ingredients such as dashi, the fish-based stock used in most soups and sauces. This book will help you to navigate the fascinating but confusing world of Japanese cuisine and enjoy the many culinary delights it has to…

Who am I?

I’ve been living a semi-nomadic lifestyle and traveling the globe for all my adult life, and travel has truly shaped who I am. In 2014, when I learned about the many advantages of a vegan lifestyle for my health, the planet, and the animals, I felt compelled to make the change. There was one thing holding me back, though, which was the fear that being vegan would ruin travel. Fortunately, I gave it a trial run anyway during a three-week trip to Greece and discovered that being vegan actually made traveling even more fun! Ever since, I’ve been sharing my global vegan discoveries on my website, the Nomadic Vegan.

I wrote...

Veggie Planet: Uncover the Vegan Treasures Hiding in Your Favorite World Cuisines

By Wendy Werneth,

Book cover of Veggie Planet: Uncover the Vegan Treasures Hiding in Your Favorite World Cuisines

What is my book about?

Discover the many plant-based dishes that are hiding in plain sight in the world’s best-loved cuisines. Intrepid globetrotter and vegan travel expert Wendy Werneth has explored 117 countries on 7 continents, sampling countless local specialties along the way. In Veggie Planet, she highlights the many naturally vegan dishes in 11 of the world's most famous cuisines and shows you just how vegan-friendly they really are. 

But Veggie Planet is more than just an international travel guide for people interested in the vegan lifestyle. Since the cuisines it describes are widely available (think Chinese, Italian, Indian, etc.), Veggie Planet is a godsend not only for when you’re traveling but also for when you want to enjoy a delicious vegan meal while eating out, even in your own hometown.

One Man's Justice

By Akira Yoshimura,

Book cover of One Man's Justice

Set in the years immediately following Japan’s surrender in WWII, this less well-known novel offers insight into how some Japanese soldiers saw their behavior: not as war criminals, but as acting in retaliation for American bombing raids. The story should not be read as an exoneration of Japanese atrocities, but rather as a window into the much larger problem of understanding an enemy’s perspective. Warning: this perspective shift is sure to make you uncomfortable, forcing you to revisit some assumptions about the “Good War.” 

Who am I?

I am a historian of international conflict who focuses on understanding the enemy. For most of my career, I have studied why we so often misread others, and how those misperceptions lead to war. The current crisis in Ukraine is just one more example of how the parties involved misunderstood each other. I believe that if we could improve this one ability, we would substantially lessen the likelihood, frequency, and severity of war.

I wrote...

A Sense of the Enemy: The High Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind

By Zachary Shore,

Book cover of A Sense of the Enemy: The High Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind

What is my book about?

More than 2000 years ago the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu advised us to know our enemies. The question has always been how. In A Sense of the Enemy, the historian Zachary Shore demonstrates that leaders can best understand an opponent not simply from his pattern of past behavior, but from his behavior at pattern breaks. Meaningful pattern breaks occur during dramatic deviations from the routine when the enemy imposes costs upon himself. It's at these unexpected moments, Shore explains, that successful leaders can learn what makes their rivals truly tick.

With vivid, suspenseful prose, he takes us into the minds of statesmen to see how they in turn tried to enter the minds of others. He shows how this type of mind-reading, which he calls "strategic empathy," shaped matters of war and peace. 

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