Highly recommended as a work of historical excavation regarding a watershed publication.



Los Angeles–based journalist Blume uncovers the fascinating backstory to perhaps the most influential piece ever published by an American magazine: John Hersey’s 1946 report on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

After the catastrophic August 1945 bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, justified by President Harry Truman and other officials as necessary to end World War II, the American public witnessed a barrage of government propaganda about how the attacks had been what Secretary of War Henry Stimson called “ ‘our least abhorrent choice’ when it came to ending the war with Japan. In Stimson’s telling, the nuclear option was once again depicted as humane.” At the time, most American journalists tended to disseminate the propaganda; for at least a year after the bombings, few Americans—or global citizens—knew “what had actually transpired beneath those roiling mushroom clouds. Then, on Aug. 31, 1946, the New Yorker devoted its entire issue to a 30,000-word account by Hersey about the human toll in Hiroshima. About 42,000 Hiroshima residents had died quickly while countless more were suffering horrible aftereffects of radiation. The eventual number of fatalities is estimated at 280,000. Blume skillfully relates the biography of the still young but already well-known Hersey; his remarkable collaboration with New Yorker editors Harold Ross and William Shawn; and Hersey’s inspiration for his decision to structure the article around six Hiroshima survivors. “It was simply a question of scale,” writes the author. “Hersey would dial it down from God’s eye level to a human vantage point.” Blume's narrative explaining how Hersey gained access to Hiroshima, despite obstacles raised by the U.S. military, never flags in its drama. The author also provides endlessly interesting anecdotes about the aftermath of the publication of “Hiroshima,” which eventually became a bestselling book. Hersey continued to be both lionized and criticized until his death in 1993, and his work has continued to inform debates about the appropriate use of nuclear weapons.

Highly recommended as a work of historical excavation regarding a watershed publication.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982128-51-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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