Connections: Examining The New Yorker's "Hiroshima"

Sep 2, 2016

Seventy years ago this week, the New Yorker published "Hiroshima," arguably the most important piece of journalism in the 20th century.

Reporters had covered the atomic bombings in Japan, but none had focused on victims' stories. John Hersey used an extraordinary 31,000 words to tell the story of six people who had survived the bombing of Hiroshima. The piece, titled simply "Hiroshima," went viral decades before viral was a thing.

We consider the piece in many ways: How effective was Hersey's story-telling, which was narrative in style without inserting himself into the piece? How does it affect our understanding of the bomb's impact? Would modern journalists be afforded an opportunity to tell a story with that kind of depth? And are there are other pieces of journalism that rival it? Our guests:

  • William B. Hauser, professor emeritus of history at the University of Rochester
  • Eric Grode, regular contributor to the New York Times culture section and director of the Goldring Arts Journalism Program at Syracuse University
  • Mari Tsuchiya, senior library assistant at the University of Rochester