II American LiteratureGioielli 1Rob GioielliMrs. McFarlanSenior English 6 Dec. 1994Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky .
Mr. Tanimoto has a distinctrecollection that it traveled from east to west, from the city toward the hills. It seemedlike a sheet of sun. John Hersey, from Hiroshima, pp.
8On August 6, 1945, the worldchanged forever. On that day the United States of America detonated an atomic bomb over thecity of Hiroshima. Never before had mankind seen anything like. Here was something thatwas slightly bigger than an ordinary bomb, yet could cause infinitely more destruction.Order now
Itcould rip through walls and tear down houses like the devils wrecking ball. In Hiroshima itkilled 100,000 people, most non-military civilians. Three days later in Nagasaki it killedroughly 40,000 . The immediate effects of these bombings were simple.
The Japanesegovernment surrendered, unconditionally, to the United States. The rest of the worldrejoiced as the most destructive war in the history of mankind came to an end . All whilethe survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki tried to piece together what was left of theirlives, families and homes. Over the course of the next forty years, these two bombings,and the nuclear arms race that followed them, would come to have a direct or indirecteffect on almost every man, woman and child on this Earth, including people in the UnitedStates.
The atomic bomb would penetrate every fabric of American existence. From ourpolitics to our educational system. Our industry and our art. Historians have gone sofar as to call this period in our history the atomic age for the way it has shaped andguided world politics, relations and culture. The entire history behind the bomb itself isrooted in Twentieth Century physics.
At the time of the bombing the science of physics hadbeen undergoing a revolution for the past thirty-odd years. Scientists now had a clearpicture of what the atomic world was like. They new the structure and particle makeup ofatoms, as well as how they behaved. During the 1930s it became apparent that there was aimmense amount of energy that would be released atoms of Gioielli 2certain elements weresplit, or taken apart. Scientists began to realize that if harnessed, this energy could besomething of a magnitude not before seen to human eyes.
They also saw that this energycould possibly be harnessed into a weapon of amazing power. And with the advent of WorldWar Two, this became an ever increasing concern. In the early fall of 1939, the same timethat the Germans invaded Poland, President Roosevelt received a letter from Albert Einstein,informing him about the certain possibilities of creating a controlled nuclear chainreaction, and that harnessing such a reaction could produce a bomb of formidable strength. He wrote: This new phenomena would lead also lead to the construction of bombs, and it isconceivable, though much less certain-that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thusbe constructed (Clark 556-557).
The letter goes on to encourage the president to increasegovernment and military involvement in such experiments, and to encourage the experimentalwork of the scientists with the allocation of funds, facilities and equipment that might benecessary. This letter ultimately led to the Manhattan Project, the effort that involvedbillions of dollars and tens of thousands of people to produce the atomic bomb. During thetime after the war, until just recently the American psyche has been branded with the threatof a nuclear holocaust. Here was something so powerful, yet so diminutive. A bomb thatcould obliterate our nations capital, and that was as big as somebodies backyard grill.
Forthe first time in the history of human existence here was something capable of wiping us offthe face of the Earth. And most people had no control over that destiny. It seemed likepeoples lives, the life of everything on this planet, was resting in the hands of a couplemen in Northern Virginia and some guys over in Russia. The atomic bomb and the amazingpower it held over us had a tremendous influence on American Culture, including a profoundeffect on American Literature. After the war, the first real piece of literature about thebombings came in 1946. The work Hiroshima, by Jon Hersey, from which the opening quote istaken, first appeared as a long article in .