The Birth of the Atomic Age | Harper's Magazine

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The Birth of the Atomic Age

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On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, and the atomic age was born. To mark it, read the gripping account published by the U.P.’s James McGlinchy:

Driving into Hiroshima we saw a buzzard sitting on a tree. Nobody but a buzzard would want to pick over this city— undoubtedly the most destroyed city per square mile of all those that have been bombed and shelled in six years of bloody war in Europe and the Pacific…. One bomb— that is the key to the most staggering single event of this war. You can ride through Hiroshima and look at it again and again and all the time you say to yourself, ‘One bomb did all this.’… From that one bomb people are still dying…. According to Japanese doctors, their hair falls out, their gums bleed and they have stomach and kidney trouble…. They get weaker and weaker and finally they die…. In this city you can smell the stench of death as it used to stink from the bodies of dead Germans who were left to bloat in the summer sun in Normandy. In this city you can see all the ruined cities of the world put together and spread out. In this city you can see in the eyes of the few Japanese picking through the ruins all the hate it is possible for a human to muster.

McClinchy is profiled in Rick MacArthur’s tribute to Walter Cronkite. The whole piece is a must-read.

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