From an early age I thought it was strange that my family had a connection to both sides of the atomic bombs, in a very intimate way. I hoped to write a book that showed one of the most important events in human history had more then one viewpoint.
As the world becomes more connected, and wars continue to be waged, I believe it is crucial to our understanding and our future as a functioning society that we take a step back and look objectively at each side.
To that end, I have just released my book The Nuclear Family on Amazon. It will be available on Kindle on August 10, and bookstores in about four weeks later. Here is an excerpt:
“Truth is a malleable concept, yet remains the most valued of virtues. In 2010, in order to uphold the truth, I started discussing the atomic bombs as they related to my family. A book I’ll leave nameless was under scrutiny because a person lied about the American perspective depicted in its pages. The author redacted, but the incident left me reeling to tell the true story that connected both sides of the atomic bomb to my family. I wrote a newspaper article for the 65th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It snowballed into a research grant that I won on March 10, 2011 which was already March 11th in Japan. That night distaster struck. As the news unfolded of what would become the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster, I quickly decided not to give up my plans. I was dedicated to this book. I was dedicated to truth.
How can we define truth, especially when it comes to history? Every country has their own truth for every chapter in history. Take Pearl Harbor, for example. What is the truth behind Pearl Harbor?
From one point of view, you see your culture and way of life threatened by a foreign influence largely interested in its own economic gain. You fight that influence off regionally and try to establish your own hegemony, but even more world powers get involved and try to exert their own dominance. Suddenly, one last powerful nation attempts to cut off your energy supply. You could stop fighting altogether, or you could surprise everyone with an attack. On December 8, 1941, this was the frame in which Tokyo viewed its options.
Of course, Americans know a different truth, and because of different time zones, December 7 is the day that will live in infamy. Pearl Harbor was a vicious attack that led to a war Americans didn’t want to wage. The Japanese were ruthless warriors who vowed to fight to their last man. They treated prisoners of war like slaves and showed no signs of giving up, even when it was believed they were all but sure to be defeated.
In response to the enslaught that followed Pearl Harbor, the US military took planes that they could have flown at thirty-two thousand feet down to ten thousand and rained firebombs on Japan’s wooden cities. The deaths of millions of Japanese soldiers and civilians followed. Endless passions surround World War II. Men and women on both sides will always rally behind their country in the Great War that showed the extent of man’s inhumanity. Americans and Japanese alike may never agree on the history. But the truth to each of them will always remain the same.”
Ari M. Beser is the grandson of Lt. Jacob Beser, the only U.S. serviceman aboard both bomb-carrying B-29s. He is traveling through Japan with the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship to report on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. Using photo essays, videos, and articles, Beser will give voice to people directly affected by nuclear technology today, as well as work with Japanese and Americans to encourage a message of reconciliation and nuclear disarmament. His new book, “The Nuclear Family,” focuses on the American and Japanese perspectives of the atomic bombings.