Afterword

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer

This inquiry was a labor of love—exacting, but also rewarding. Some questions could be answered simply by taking the eyewitnesses at their word, rather than distorting their meaning to fit the dishonest ‘atomic’ narrative. Other insights occurred only after months of mulling over seemingly intractable enigmas. The hypothesis that took shape with time could ever better fit new evidence that it encountered; while some aspects of it may yet have to change, it has stabilized enough to face the test of public scrutiny. It is of course unlikely that fair, dispassionate scrutiny will be the predominant attitude of critics; I will be content with moving the needle to Schopenhauer’s second stage—from ridicule to violent opposition.

Aside from the scientific understanding, I also gained a deep admiration for the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—moved by stories such as this one about two teenage boys: having set out in search of their relatives on the day of the Hiroshima bombing, they happened upon a shelter full of badly wounded people. Not finding their relatives among them, they nevertheless stayed on for an entire day to care for those sick and give them water. We learn of other adolescent boys and girls who, having lost both parents in the bombings, worked themselves to exhaustion in order to provide for their younger siblings, permitting them to go to school by abandoning their own. We read how Drs. Akizuki and Nagai, themselves affected by ‘radiation’ sickness, toiled unremittingly to relieve the suffering of others, regardless of the meager means at their disposal. We see the kindness of Dr. Hachiya and of the people near and dear to him:

I had been strongly attached to the patient they were cremating tonight. … This woman had been loved and respected by her neighbors, and to the soldiers in the Second Corps she was the baba-san [grandmother] of Hiroshima. Her meagre pension as well as her savings had been spent to help one soldier or another. Her round, shapeless figure had cast a friendly shadow in the neighborhood and on the wards of our hospital. Many were the times when she and another baba-san had brought cheer to the sick and lonely. … 

Shortly before she died I recalled stopping at her pallet to comfort her. She could not see me because her eyelids were swollen shut, but she recognized my voice.

“Baba-san”, I said, “your friends are around you. Hiroshima has been a good place to live in because you have been here to think of others before yourself. Death is approaching, but like an old soldier you can die with dignity in the knowledge that your wounds were received in line of duty.”

While this book focused on only those parts of the reports by Hachiya and by others which are germane to its scientific case, the works of these men are worth reading in full for being inspired by their genuine humanity. They personify these words by Mahatma Gandhi:

In the midst of death life persists,
in the midst of untruth truth persists,
in the midst of darkness light persists.