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An extensive and unique collection of photographs taken in the months immediately following the detonation of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki
They illustrate the plight of hibakusha ("explosion-affected people"), and the immediate treatments and medical research undertaken to study phenomena never before seen nor imagined. The explosion at Hiroshima vaporized 50,000 people; in Nagasaki, at a temperature of 3900 °C, between 30,000 and 75,000 inhabitants perished in an instant. The lasting medical trauma, graphically depicted in the present photographs, came in the days and the weeks after. We see the survivors suffering from burns, the onset of radiation sickness and malnutrition, with clothing seared to their bodies. First Japanese, then American physicians studied the unparalleled misery inflicted on the human body with experimental treatments and dissections. These photographs show their desperate race to understand and confront the first and only nuclear catastrophes the world has yet seen. Many of the most iconic images of this event are present in this collection. These photographs provide a vivid first-hand account of some of humanity's most horrific days and the ensuing medical crisis which took the lives of many more. Most of the more than 1800 photographs are preserved in three original binders. 216 photographs, most of which are larger format, are housed in two modern binders. The majority of the photos record the wounds of those both alive and dead. Stunned by the power of the nuclear devices, doctors and medical researchers captured the suffering with these photographs. First-responders witnessed thousands of victims stricken by ailments for which preparation was impossible. The more than 1800 images focus on the doctors' efforts and the more harrowing case histories. There are also a number of photographs which depict human dissections through which medical professionals hoped to better understand the impact of such extreme levels of radiation. There are a number of microscopic photographs of skin, kidneys, bones, brain, thyroid, uterus, spleen, and testicles. The photographs show dying parents and children and are a vivid record of the graphic scenes following the atomic explosion. The first binder - labelled "A" on the spine - contains about 950 small format photographs of several sizes on 96 sheets (and enlarged versions; a few are loose or missing), almost all of which have hand-written captions. About two-thirds of the photographs were taken by Shunkichi Kikuchi (1916-90) and the remaining third by Shigeo Hayashi (1918-2002) during the days of 1-20 October 1945. The two were famous photographers engaged by the Japanese government (as members of a survey team dispatched by the Special Committee for the Investigation of A-Bomb Damages, Scientific Research Council of Japan, Ministry of Education) to document the unique medical effects of the explosions at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The photographs in this binder depict the explosion's impact on Hiroshima and its buildings; on its inhabitants and their multitude of health problems; and on the ecology of the city. Many of the pictures are concerned with the immediate medical care provided to survivors, as well as dissections of those who had succumbed to radiation poisoning and burns. There are about a dozen more small prints tipped into this binder which focus on the effects of extreme radiation exposure. On the backs of the sheets are details of the places of exposure to radiation, direction of the exposure, what clothes the victims were wearing, the history of the illnesses caused by radiation exposure, and the classification of burns (and, in the process, creating a new term genbaku-sho [in trans.: "atomic bomb syndrome"].). The notes amount to extended case histories of the patients. The names of patients are given as well as how far they were from "ground zero." There are also a number of photographs depicting structural damage. At the end of the binder is a series of 30 photographs (one is missing) forming a panoramic view of the entire destroyed city. Binder B is concerned with Nagasaki; the c. 525 photographs of various sizes, were taken by Hayashi, Kikuchi, and another photographer, Shigeru Miki. These photographs are mostly concerned with the physical destruction of Nagasaki. There are pictures of bones lying on the streets, a marker at "ground zero," irradiated trees and other vegetation, a destroyed train at Urakami Station, interiors of destroyed schools and factories, damaged gas works, the ruined Immaculate Conception Cathedral, half-destroyed shrine gates, flattened residential areas, the Nagasaki Medical Center, signs with messages left by survivors hoping to find family members, survivors with their names, etc. The third and final original binder is concerned with the Japanese efforts to produce a documentary movie about the two nuclear explosions. There are a number of photographs of burns, corpses, scenes of medical treatments, devastated landscapes, patients suffering from radiation exposure, excavations, researchers using Geiger counters, etc. Prof. Hitoshi Miyake, a member of the Armed Forces Joint Commission for Investigating Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan (established in Sept. 1945), took a number of microscopic pictures of damaged organs; they are included here. There are additional photographs by Yosuke Yamahata, Kenichi Kimura, and Masami Onuka. Much of the Japanese research into the effects of the nuclear explosions was suppressed at the direction of General Douglas MacArthur. We believe this is a unique and rare archive depicting one of the most devastating man-made catastrophes.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2018-01-12           Check availability:      Biblio    

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