Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hiroshima: The Story of the First Atom Bomb

Lawton, Clive A. 2004. HIROSHIMA: THE STORY OF THE FIRST ATOM BOMB. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 076362271 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-12]

While the large, 48-page format makes HIROSHIMA look like a picture book for younger readers, the concise but detailed text, many photographs, and captions which extend the topic on each two-page spread are more appropriate for older readers. Lawton, a Briton, presents multiple points of view about the development and deployment of the first atom bombs, but refrains from editorializing. Perhaps the most interesting puzzle piece presented by the author is this: “At Potsdam, the Allies also discussed the continuing war against Japan. The United States, which was heavily engaged in fighting Japan, secured an agreement that the USSR would not enter the conflict in the Pacific until after August 15. The United States was worried that if the USSR joined the war against the Japanese, it would seek to gain control over the region once Japan had been defeated.” Lawton then leaves the ultimate timing of the atom bomb drops for the reader to synthesize.

The many photos, maps, and reproduced newspaper pages, correspondence, and propaganda pieces are thoughtfully placed and captioned. Access features include a table of contents, a timeline, glossary, “Who’s Who,” details about the science involved in nuclear warfare, an index, and photo credits. The BOOKLIST review of July 1, 2004, concludes: “‘Was it the right decision?’ is always the question, and Lawton is fair to all sides, considering both Japanese wartime atrocities and the slaughter of civilians killed by the bomb.”

Research a topic of interest and present it in this scrapbook style, with a minimum of text and a maximum of graphics. Be sure to cite sources.

Ask older readers to further research and write about both sides for dropping or not dropping the atomic bombs on August 6 and 9, 1945. Then, as advisors to President Truman, create and present their opinions.

Other books about Hiroshima and the first atom bomb:
Tanes, Richard. HIROSHIMA. ISBN 0613361024

By Julie Brinker

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