The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki both play a central role in any narrative of the end of the East Asia-Pacific War in 1945, yet Hiroshima has consistently drawn more attention in the ensuing decades. In Resurrecting Nagasaki: Reconstruction and the Formation of Atomic Narratives
(Cornell University Press, 2018), Chad Diehl
argues that the tendency to overlook the bomb’s impact on the citizens of Nagasaki and the city’s arduous, contested process of reconstruction is hardly a coincidence. As Diehl exhaustively demonstrates in this richly documented, multi-dimensional study, Nagasaki’s municipal officials and US Occupation authorities worked together—though not necessarily for the same reasons—to downplay the bomb’s horrific impact in order to promote the city’s identity as an “international cultural city.” At the same time, conflicting interpretations of Nagasaki’s atomic past, present, and future have always competed with the officially sanctioned narrative for national and international attention. Throughout the Occupation era and even into the present day, Nagai Takashi (the “Saint of Urakami”), the city’s Catholic community, and survivor-activists have all contributed to a multivocal discourse that, in Diehl’s analysis, provides new insights into the politics of collective memory.