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Avatar for KaliO KaliO said:
The United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons. Knowing what we know today about the effects of nuclear warfare, it’s not something to be proud of, and the world’s nations have been very careful not to let it happen again. Author Keiji Nakazawa is a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb and Barefoot Gen is his fictionalized autobiography of that survival. Gen is a young boy living in Hiroshima, Japan with his family during the final days of World War II. The war effort has taken its toll on the Japanese economy and Gen’s family is poor. Gen and his little brother pretend to be orphaned beggars to keep their pregnant mother from becoming malnourished. Gen’s father has opposed the war which makes the family unpopular with their neighbors and with local government and law enforcement. When the children get excited over a few meager scraps of food, their parents are filled with guilt and shame which they, Gen’s father especially, tend to take out on the kids. It’s not an ideal family situation for sure, but readers won’t be able to resist precocious Gen as he runs amuck through the streets of the city while his little brother tags along. This, of course, makes it all the more difficult to accept what is coming: a new form of violent warfare that the world has never seen the likes of before, the near-total destruction of a thriving city, and the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children. Barefoot Gen is a multi-volume graphic novel series and an early example of Japanese manga; the following books continue Gen’s story after the bombing as he struggles to get by in a world that is forever and horribly changed. The comic-strip format is highly effective here, and not just for the shock value of showing terrifying events that words cannot describe. Nakazawa’s drawings show a time and a place that the Western world is not familiar with. The contrast between the everyday struggles of a simple family and the horrors they are about to undergo is a compelling lesson in compassion and humanity.
posted Dec 24, 2009 at 1:30PM
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