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Posted May 21, 2012
For a more fair and honest view of the "last train" co
For a more fair and honest view of the "last train" controversy,from someone who knows the history of the survivors, Steve Leeper, director of the Hiroshima Peace Cultural Foundation and the Hiroshima Museum, has made the following plea to American Publishers : June 29, 2010Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
By the spring of 2010, the two 509th veterans who had been sending letters to the publisher of “Last Train” and to the media, writing under 509th letterhead that the book was full of lies about radiation poisoning in Hiroshima, and who were given credibility by the media as knowledgeable veterans of the bomber wing that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan, were revealed by James Cameron’s historical researchers to have “never been in the 509th.” In an equally strange development, a widely quoted Los Alamos scientist who insisted that the “shadow people” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a hoax created by the Japanese, turned out never to have existed at all. Many of the most venomous statements against the book were unmasked as having originated from members of the self-named “9/11 Truth” organization – which had a long and well-documented prior history of accusing Pellegrino of having been a corrupt scientist who helped the Bush Administration to cover up the “controlled demolition” of the World Trade Center and to frame Osama Bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks.
Owing largely to an outreach from Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors (some of whom were perplexed by amateur blogs that somehow ended up being quoted as objective journalism by major American news organizations, ever more loudly denying the survivors’ experiences and in some cases even denying their existence), Pellegrino was invited as an honored guest to the 65th anniversary ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Meanwhile, Steven Leeper, Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (which manages the Hiroshima Museum), wrote a plea to Pellegrino’s literary agent and to the American publishing community:
I am writing today to encourage you to fight with everything you have to defend Charles Pellegrino and get the new edition of The Last Train from Hiroshima published and read as widely as possible.
The furor [over a veteran who exaggerated his war record] at first appeared to me to be a terrible tragedy. I am sure Pellegrino experiences it as such. However, that tragedy has forced him to write an even better book, even more complete [with interviews I have helped to arrange, including some survivors who are coming forth for the first time in 65 years]… I can’t prove it, but I doubt anyone alive, Japanese or otherwise, has heard, studied, translated and/or interpreted the testimony of more A-bomb survivors than I have, with the possible exception of my wife. In the process, I have read and/or translated numerous related books, articles, and captions for museum exhibits. I know or knew personally many of the survivors Pellegrino mentions in the book.
I have attempted to establish my credentials as a person who knows the Hiroshima story because I want it to mean something to you when I say that The Last train from Hiroshima is by far the best book I have ever read on the subject of the bombings… No one I know has ever articulated more fully, more accurately and more effectively the essential nature of the atomic bombings.
The great “crime” of the original book was to believe a well-documented, convincingly presented story [of an American veteran] that turned out not to be true. When presented with new evidence, Pellegrino was quick to admit his mistake and correct the book. Nevertheless, he and his book are being attacked as if he had deliberately fabricated the whole thing and, therefore, can no longer be trusted. Obviously, the Fuoco story is not the cause of this rage. I suspect Last Train arouses such fury because Pellegrino accurately depicts the cruelty of the weapon and the humanity of its victims. Among the criticisms of Last Train, some are probably sincere, objective efforts… However, most of the comments on related blogs appear to be ferocious efforts to destroy the bearer of the bad news that the atomic bombings were horrific beyond our understanding.
Last Train is a great book, a potential game-changer in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons. The real tragedy would be to let a few rage-filled warriors keep this book from living up to its potential… All we need now is a publisher with the guts to absorb the venom of the nuclear holocaust deniers – and even that challenge has been made easier by the controversy.
Please do not wilt in the face of irrational, narrow-minded opposition, however threatening… If The Last Train from Hiroshima is squelched, those who launched this attack will be encouraged to move against other books they dislike, killing them one by one. Fear of a few loudmouthed literary terrorists should not prevent the public from reading all sides of an issue, especially one as important to all of us as the atomic bombings.
- Steven Leeper