- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield; 1 edition (3 December 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1538121786
- ISBN-13: 978-1538121788
- Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.5 x 23 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
To Hell and Back Paperback – 3 Dec 2018
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About the Author
Charles Pellegrino is the author of numerous books, including the New York Times bestseller Her Name, Titanic and Ghosts of the Titanic. His research includes work in paleobiology, nuclear propulsion systems for space exploration, and forensic archaeology at sites ranging from Pompeii and the Titanic to the World Trade Center. He serves as a scientific consultant to James Cameron for both his Titanic expeditions and his ongoing Avatar film series.
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Today, they have risen out of the shadows because of Dr. Charles Pellegrino’s newly published book,
Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima. My ancestors have become real people. They are children, teenagers, young adults, mothers and fathers and grandparents. They are children who went to school on an empty stomach because of war rations and of their mothers who would try to find forgiveness by leaving baked potatoes on their children’s graveside for the rest of their lives. They all have a voice.
The story begins in Hiroshima at the first flash of the bomb and ends at Nagasaki and beyond. Approximately 300 people from the smoldering city of Hiroshima fled to safety to Nagasaki. Nagasaki was home to many of these survivors. 90% of them were killed by the second bomb. Thirty people survived the second atomic bomb in Nagasaki to become double survivors. One known survivor would experience radiation for the third time in Fukushima.
This story is told through the voices of the survivors of the bombings. Pellegrino preserves that part of history with his forensic and archeological expertise along with his poetic and masterful use of language. It is not a generic history but a very personal and humanistic one. It is not a political story, it is a story of humanity. It is not a story of blame, it is a story of forgiveness and hope for our future children. Pellgrino had originally published a riveting book titled : Last Train From Hiroshima. After publication, more survivors sought Pellegrino to tell their stories, stories that were silenced for 70 years. Their message is clearly told…what they experienced must not happen again. What happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki must not be forgotten, ever for the sake of our children.
Each time Pellegrino brought forth the story of a child, a teenager, a mother or father, I saw them as my ancestors. Ancestors I haven’t thought of as real people.
On pages 43-44, 14 year old boy Akihiro Takahashi’s story is told with uncensored description of the people he saw that day. Pellegrino calls it the un-gloving where skin is burned away and only flesh remains. Takahashi bears many of these scars.
My mother’s voice echoes back. I need to believe that Akihiro Takahashi was one of my ancestors.
On Page 208, Pellegrino speaks Kiwanu who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and yet, a third time.
Kiwanu had chosen, as his family’s place of refuge, the pristine-appearing fields of Fukushima. On March 11, 2011, he would suddenly come to a special unity of feeling with the Kakugawa family, whose members had departed Hiroshima ahead of the war, seeking the illusory peace of a farming community in Hawaii. To the west of Kapoho Village lay beautiful Pearl Harbor/ and somewhat nearer, a scared mountain that would one day bury the entire village beneath a lake of lava.
We are all familiar with Sadako and the Thousand Cranes. Sadako’s brother Masahiro asked Pellegrino to continue the legacy of his little sister who made a thousand cranes while dying from cancer.
“I think Omoiyari is the best way to start. The worst way is to call ourselves victims. To say ‘victim’ requires a victimizer, and the victimizer is led to blame; and that starts the cycle of blame…
Sadako understood this theme more personally and more intensely than most people ever will. And she had only enough time to begin teaching anew what most of us have so easily forgotten.”
The survivors who told their stories to Pellegrino are all adults but their memories are from their childhood so these stories are from the children who survived. They are not pretty stories but they are real and a part of who we are. Surely, as Pellegrino and the survivors proposed, each time we do an act of kindness, we honor and remember our ancestors by helping to create a world of peace.
Thank you, Charles Pellegrino, for helping us to not forget all those who have passed before us.
And to my mother, no, you and all those before you, will not be forgotten because there are the Charles Pellegrinos of the world who will painstakingly pick through the mountainous piles of political and historical debris to bring us the human story of all our ancestors. So we carry on this legacy of peace, forgiveness and human kindness in each of their name.
Pellegrino’s book is dedicated to Tomorrow’s Child.
No, this is about people and the effects inflicted on them by advanced science. This is THEIR story. As to that, the science is fascinating enough at times to make one aware that the bombs really were a rip in the fabric of the universe, but the effects on human bodies were immediate. I was almost ashamed to be so riveted by the things unleashed by the bombs. Blue fireflies witnessed by the survivors at night? No a form of St. Elmo’s Fire created by the disturbance of electro-magnetic fields. Neutron sprays? Ephemeral isotopes? They’re all there.
Military historians will be diverted by the stories of the two flights that delivered the bombs to their targets — I learned much that I didn’t know about that aspect of the story.
But the people of the affected cities are at the center of the book. The horror is endless but necessary to leave no doubt as to the feasibility of ‘winning’ a nuclear war. Their deaths should serve not only as a warning, but also as inspiration.
One or two things completely surprised me: orphans of the bomb strikes were inadvertent enablers of the resurgence of the Yakuza, especially in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after the war. Moreover, survivors of the atomic obscenity were shunned by the rest of Japanese society and often had to live sub rosa lives just to marry or to escape from being fired from their jobs if found out.
Reading this book is necessary. Take from it what you will, but never lose sight of the human beings at the center of the story. Please.