Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon History of Hiroshima

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Wow. I finished this book last night sobbing and then kicking myself that I had not borrowed the second volume yet. First published in 1975, Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen is an incredibly moving 10 volume manga series about a family in Hiroshima leading up to and the events following the dropping of the atomic bomb.  The depth of this anti-war story is made even more intense with the knowledge that it’s based on Nakazawa’s own experiences as a 6 year old.  In the first volume, the bomb is dropped only in the last twenty pages, so most of the book is getting a glimpse into what life was like for working class Japanese people during the war.  An effort to translate the book into English began in 1976 by volunteers who formed Project Gen in order to share Nakazawa’s story of hope and triumph.  In 1994, Project Gen was revived and in 2000, nine volunteers spent three years translating the books, which you can read about here. The 2004 unabridged edition also features an introduction by Art Spiegelman.

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