One of the ways I remember is with an annual read of John Hersey’s short book “Hiroshima.” It has never been knocked from its place at the top of my list of Things Every Journalist Should Study. Today, to enrich that education, I hunted back through previous Storyboard posts that explore what makes the book endure:
- Journalist and teacher Peter Richmond took a senior seminar with Hersey at Yale. In 2013, he wrote a semi-confessional essay about having to lose his ego to find his writing voice. It includes the six takeaways from Hersey’s class that stayed with him.
- Former Storyboard editor Constance Hale included “Hiroshima” as one of the pieces of writing she has learned most from in her career.
- Mark Kramer, founding director of the Power of Narrative conference, cited a passage from “Hiroshima” in a talk on narrative voice at this year’s virtual gathering.
- Last year, on the 75th anniversary, I reflected on how the teaching power of Hersey’s book grows for me over time, and that every reading offers new insights. I cribbed, with credit, from those who had written about “Hiroshima” before, but also found myself studying how Hersey used individual names to build the humanity and universality of his story.
If you don’t have a well-thumbed copy of your own, it’s time. Or simply Google references to Hersey and “Hiroshima” to read how how others are still using Hersey’s iconiic work to uncover deeper and deeper truths about that horrible reality.