Study Guide

Hiroshima War

By John Hersey

War

Some of Hersey's subjects aren't keen to philosophize on the topics of war and peace, while others (Mr. Tanimoto being probably the best example) are pretty reflective regarding war, its meaning, and whether it can be prevented.

Hersey also gives us a lot of details and statistics that drive home the impact of war in a big way while also maintaining that journalistic style Hiroshima is so famous for. You could argue that the book's discussion of war is all the more powerful because it is so objective, actually.

Questions About War

  1. Does the book take a position on the ethics of total war? How do we know? Is war presented as justified/justifiable?
  2. Is peace presented as a viable possibility going forward?
  3. In a book that's so much about war, there's not too much discussion about the military/politicians. What role do these figures have in the book? How are they presented?

Chew on This

The tragedy of the book lies not just in the specifics of what happened, but also in the sense that war is inevitable.

War is portrayed not just as an evil associated with one country or side, but also a human impulse/evil that is hard to quash

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