The Roman Catholic viewpoint of Glynn, a Marist priest who spent two decades in Japan, dominates a naive biography that fails to do justice to Japanese radiologist and author Takashi Nagai, who died in 1951. A convert to Christianity, Nagai helped pioneer X-ray work at Nagasaki Medical University, survived the atomic bombing there and, although terminally ill with leukemia (a result of years of working with radiation), wrote inspirational books and articles after World War II. Glynn glosses over Nagai's professional life, preferring to concentrate on his religious conversion or his (Christian) wife, Midori, ``a well-nigh perfect example of womanhood.'' This focus also pervades supporting material; Glynn states three times that 8000 Christians died in the Nagasaki bombing before mentioning, pages later, that 72,000 Japanese died. The author is didactic and condescending, as when he explains that ``Shinto gods are really like Christian saints in heaven.'' Even worse is Glynn's casual and questionable handling of history, noting, for example, that ``European women first began to read and write in the sixteenth century.'' Photos not seen by PW. (July)
This is a marvelous biography of Takashi Nagai, a Japanese convert to Christianity, physician, peace activist, and victim of terminal radiation disease as well as a man of letters who wrote 20 books after he became bedridden. The story reveals the horrors of atomic devastation, the ironies of the bomb's dropping on one of the few Christian communities in Japan, Nagai's successful struggle to find meaning in suffering, and the triumph of life in almost hopeless situations. Nagai never rejects science, continues to see atomic discovery as potentially good (providing peaceful energy for oil-poor Japan), and retains deep love for the Emperor and for his non-Christian ancestors. This book can inspire both Christians and non-Christians to work for peace. Highly recommended.