Treatment FOCUS: Jacob Lawrence's Hiroshima Series
“A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next—that spared him.”
—John Hersey, “Hiroshima”
When John Hersey’s “Hiroshima”—which reported on the experiences of six people during the dropping of the first atomic bomb and its aftermath—appeared in The New Yorker on August 31, 1946, the 31,000-word article filled the entire issue. The magazine’s editors had decided to publish the story without other editorial content because they felt that few Americans had come to understand the devastating impact of nuclear weapons in the year since the attack. They wanted there to be no distractions from the survivors’ accounts—just as Hersey, with his objective and unsentimental writing, left readers with only the horrific facts.