First Into Nagasaki – The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches On Post-Atomic Japan And Its Prisoners Of War, by George Weller, Edited by Anthony Weller

(Crown Publishers, 2006; 336 pp., $25 – ISBN 9780307342010)

The author of this book has written about and edited the eyewitness dispatches of his father, George Weller, written shortly after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Weller entered Nagasaki 6 Sep 45, evading the authorities to become the first correspondent to enter Nagasaki after the end of the war. Although he sent his dispatches to General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters for censorship approval, the dispatches were never released and vanished from history.

It was almost 60 years before carbon copies of the dispatches were found in a crate of moldy papers several months after Weller’s death in 2002. Now, for the first time, the dispatches have been published. Weller not only wrote about the effects of the A-bomb on Nagasaki and its people, but also about the nearby POW camps. Weller was the first American to enter the POW camps and talk to the allied prisoners of war.

Most of his dispatches cover his interviews with American, British, Australian and Dutch servicemen who had been captured in the early months of the war and the brutality they endured. Among his interviews of the POW “hell-camps” are those of the “hell-ships,” which carried American prisoners into murder and reports of cannibalism.

It is fortunate that Anthony Weller found the carbon copies of his father’s dispatches for generations to read. History has been saved.