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Despite familiar images of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan and the controversy over its fiftieth anniversary,
the human impact of those horrific events often seems lost to view. In this uncommon memoir, Dr. James N. Yamazaki tells
us in personal and moving terms of the human toll of nuclear warfare and the specific vulnerability of children to the
effects of these weapons. Giving voice to the brutal ironies of racial and cultural conflict, of war and sacrifice, his
story creates an inspiring and humbling portrait of events whose lessons remain difficult and troubling fifty years
Children of the Atomic Bomb is Dr. Yamazaki’s account of a lifelong effort to understand and document the impact of
nuclear explosions on children, particularly the children conceived but not yet born at the time of the explosions.
Assigned in 1949 as Physician-in-Charge of the United States Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Nagasaki, Yamazaki had
served as a combat surgeon at the Battle of the Bulge where he had been captured and held as a prisoner of war by the
Germans. In Japan he was confronted with violence of another dimension—the devastating impact of a nuclear blast and the
particularly insidious effects of radiation on children.
Yamazaki’s story is also one of striking juxtapositions, an account of a Japanese-American’s encounter with racism, the
story of a man who fought for his country while his parents were interned in a concentration camp in Arkansas. Once the
object of discrimination at home, Yamazaki paradoxically found himself in Japan for the first time as an American, part
of the Allied occupation forces, and again an outsider. This experience resonates through his work with the children of
Nagasaki and Hiroshima and with the Marshallese people who bore the brunt of America’s postwar testing of nuclear
weapons in the Pacific.
Recalling a career that has spanned five decades, Dr. Yamazaki chronicles the discoveries that helped chart the dangers
of nuclear radiation and presents powerful observations of both the medical and social effects of the bomb. He offers an
indelible picture of human tragedy, a tale of unimaginable suffering, and a dedication to healing that is ultimately an
unwavering, impassioned plea for peace.