The purpose of this book is to explain and analyze the ways in which the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima has been remembered, because seventy years since this defining moment in history, these memories are still contested. The speech President Obama made in Hiroshima in May drew criticism in the United States by veterans groups for being too apologetic, and peace activists for not being apologetic enough.
This debate has international reverberations.
For instance, the Rio Olympics organizers decided not to go ahead with a planned minute’s silence honoring the bomb victims, for fear of offending the United States. In Japan, the Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, supports the Mayor of Hiroshima’s call for an end to nuclear weapons, while at the same time seeking to reinterpret the pacifist Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution to allow for a more robust military.
The book consists of essays by leading academics from Australian and international universities (such as Peter Kuznick, Carolyn Stevens, Mick Broderick, Bo Jacobs, Daniela Tan and Monica Braw) and the editors are each contributing an essay.
Some of these essays look at the way the bomb has been written about in poetry and prose –reinterpreting atomic bomb literature, other essays examine the way the bomb has been explained by historians and memorialized by museum curators and, finally, some essays look at how the bomb has been interpreted and used by politicians. Together these essays help explain how memories of the bomb and opinions about it have evolved.
It’s wonderful that the editors there are so excited by the book that they will be printing a paperback edition as well as a hardcover.