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Susan Southard's book on postwar Nagasaki

August 7, 2015


U.S. journalist describes postwar agony of Nagasaki A-bomb survivors in book




NAGASAKI--A U.S. journalist has published a book about the long-term suffering of atomic bomb survivors in Nagasaki in the hope it will strike a chord with her fellow Americans.

Susan Southard wrote "Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War" to help U.S. citizens understand how hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) have continued to suffer since that fateful day of Aug. 9, 1945.

Her book focuses on the long-lasting effects on survivors to counter the feelings of many U.S. citizens who believe the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima simply ended World War II and that was it.

"My hope is that the survivors' experiences over the past 70 years will be read and understood by many Americans and that this understanding will help shape public discussion about the atomic bombings, which are two of the most controversial wartime acts in history," Southard said.

The book, published last month, is based on the firsthand accounts of five people that survived the destruction that occurred 70 years ago.

Southard visited Nagasaki five times between 2003 and 2011 to conduct research. She learned about the lingering effects of radiation that affected the survivors and the subsequent health concerns they had for their children and grandchildren, as well as things such as the discrimination that hibakusha faced in getting married.

Southard, from Arizona, visited Nagasaki for the first time when she was in Japan as a high school exchange student. She said she was overwhelmed to learn of the damage and suffering that were caused by the atomic bomb.

She said the most enduring moment she had with a hibakusha was in 1986 when she served as an interpreter for Sumiteru Taniguchi, an 86-year-old man who lived through the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. He was visiting Washington to deliver a lecture.

She talked to Taniguchi and came to understand she was talking to a man who was still suffering from the effects of the bombing even decades after the devastating event.

Southard decided to write a book focusing on survivors of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

She heard firsthand accounts of the destruction from five people including Taniguchi and also examined letters and diaries. Two of the five people who gave their accounts to Southard have since passed away.


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