The Missionary Children Who Taught Empathy to Americans
Raised Abroad, John Hersey, Pearl Buck, and Others Brought Back a Faith in Open-Mindedness
Published in 1946, John Hersey’s Hiroshima, which described the impact of the atomic bomb on residents of the city, is an extraordinary book. It not only described the bomb’s effects, it enabled Americans to see the Japanese people as fully human, even in the immediate wake of a war in which the Japanese had been demonized as a race.
Hersey’s perspective had roots in his childhood in China, where his parents were American missionaries. His capacity for empathic identification with …