Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
On January 22nd the Vatican-supported Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force, officially becoming international law.
Fake news or suppressed news or no news hardly began in the 21st century. After the 1945 decimation by atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example, the U.S. government and military immediately began a campaign to hide the horror of the devastation and the particulars of the human toll. The suppression worked—for a time.
Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World, by LA-based journalist Lesley M.M. Blume (Simon & Schuster, 2020), recounts the tale of how New Yorker journalist John Hersey found his way into Hiroshima, settled upon six individual victims of the bombings, and told their stories.
Hersey was a seasoned, globe-trotting journalist, no stranger to savagery and butchery. “The best chance that mankind had for survival—especially now that warfare had gone nuclear, [he] felt—was if people could be made to see the humanity in each other again.”
But when he arrived in Japan, over a year after the dropping of the bombs, he was staggered by what he found. A mother who’d clung to her dead infant daughter until the body started to decompose. Human beings who had been vaporized, leaving only shadows on the ground or walls. Residents, desperate to rebuild, who were still coming across severed limbs and charred corpses.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.