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Shockwave
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About the Author

Stephen Walker directed the award-winning feature film Prisoners in Time (starring John Hurt) and wrote and directed an Emmy Award-winning BBC documentary on the bombing of Hiroshima. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Reviews

The pace of Walker's narrative replicates the frantic advance of August 1945. BBC filmmaker Walker won an Emmy for his documentary on the bombing of Hiroshima and brings precision jump-cuts to this synesthesic account of the 20th century's defining event. Beginning his story three weeks before August 6 (with the first test of a bomb some of its creators speculated might incinerate the earth's atmosphere), Walker takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through the memories of American servicemen, Japanese soldiers and civilians, and the polyglot team of scientists who participated in the Manhattan Project under Gen. Leslie Groves. He establishes the doubts, fears and hopes of the bomb's designers, most of whom participated from a fear that Nazi Germany would break the nuclear threshold first. He nicely retells the story of Japan's selection months before as a target, reflecting the accelerated progress of the war in Europe, and growing concern among U.S. policymakers at the prospect of unthinkable casualties, Japanese as well as American, should an invasion of Japan's "Home Islands" be necessary. Walker conveys above all the bewilderment of Hiroshima's people, victims of a Japanese government controlled by men determined to continue fighting at all costs. Shockwave's depiction of the consequences invite comparison with John Hershey's still-classic Hiroshima. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Walker (King of Cannes: Madness, Mayhem and the Movies) here commemorates the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945). In the past six decades, much has been written about the atomic bombs used on Japan and about the Manhattan Project that developed them. However, Walker, a documentary filmmaker for the BBC, breathes new life into this story by narrowing the focus to the brief weeks between the first successful test detonation and the bombing of Hiroshima. This approach lends a rapid pace and cinematic air to the narrative, which is further enhanced by the use of dialog. Walker also forgoes concentrating on only the most famous actors in this drama, such as President Truman, instead examining the roles and thoughts of the secretary of war, several of the project technicians, the pilots and crews, and a multitude of the citizens of Hiroshima. Set against the backdrop of the Potsdam Conference and the final days of war, Walker's narrative is consistently interesting while also correcting many of the myths long surrounding those horrible days of August that signaled the beginning of a new era. Highly recommended.-Brian DeLuca, Avon Lake P.L., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Uniquely readable, immediate, and human . . . an exceptionally taut and revealing chronicle."--Booklist (starred review)
"Walker takes readers on a roller-coaster ride ... invite[s] comparison with John Hersey's still-classic Hiroshima."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Electrifying . . .The tension and concentration of Walker's thriller-like prose elicits a visceral response."--Chicago Tribune
"Highly recommended ... [Walker] lends a rapid pace and cinematic air to the narrative."--Library Journal

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