Josh Barkan's BEFORE HIROSHIMA: THE CONFESSION OF MURAYAMA KAZUO (Short Story)
A review by Dennis D. McDonald
This short story looks at the events leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima from the perspective of a young Japanese intelligence officer who pieces together evidence of what’s coming. Unfortunately, no one’s believes him.
Not that it matters. We know how events unfolded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We also know how resistant the Japanese military was to the inevitability of defeat. Those in charge were willing to sacrifice themselves and the Japanese population to their sense of honor; See Max Hastings’ Retribution for details.
In Barkan’s story we see portrayed the implications of the Japanese government’s actions at the level of individuals, their friends, and the families.
Whenever I read stories like this I always feel great sadness. It’s like reading stories about the US Civil War and wondering, how did we ever do these awful things to ourselves? How will we be judged?
I’ve read and studied the arguments and fully comprehend the logic behind statements like, “We didn’t start it,” or, “We did it to end an even a greater evil.”
I understand all that. Still, it pays to read stories like Before Hiroshima to be reminded that, despite all the Monday-morning discussions of legality, morality, and ethics, it also pays to understand how these grand issues impact individuals and their families.
Review copyright (c) 2013 by Dennis D. McDonald