It begins like this:
Aug. 6 of this year marked the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb dropped by the U.S. on Japan, at Hiroshima. Nagasaki followed on Aug. 9.
General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, testified before the U.S. Senate shortly afterwards that death from radiation is “without undue suffering” and “a very pleasant way to die.”
Belarusian Svetlana Alexievich, this year’s laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, paints a somewhat different picture. In “Voices from Chernobyl,” she writes of a woman who cared at home for her husband who was dying of radiation poisoning:
“[Tumors] crawled upward, along the body, to the face. Something black grew on him. His chin went somewhere, his neck disappeared, his tongue fell out. His veins popped, he began to bleed. From his neck, his cheeks, his ears … I’d bring a washbowl from the bathroom, and the streams would hit it, like into a milk pail. That sound, it was so peaceful and rural. Even now I hear it at night.”
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