Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Lucy Birmingham, Author, David McNeill, Author
Lucy Birmingham and David McNeil. Palgrave Macmillan, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-230-34186-9
Reviewed on: 11/12/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-137-27894-4
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-137-05060-1
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Birmingham, and McNeil, Japan correspondents for Time magazine and the Independent respectively, have chronicle the events of March 11, 2011, when the world turned in horror to the events unfolding in Japan. Much of their story is intrinsically gripping, and a rueful sense of retrospective inevitability hangs over the story of a country with "over 100 active and extinct volcanoes, and close to 1,500 earthquakes recorded every year." Stories of individuals stand out from the general chaos, such as that of Yoshio Ichida, a fisherman who, as Japanese fishermen do before tsunamis hit shore, bravely runs his boat into the open sea to save it, only to return home to find his harbor town of Soma destroyed. But major themes, such as the stoicism of the Japanese, who "function normally as the scenery collapses around them" are too rarely explored in depth. More perplexing, the authors choose to tell each survivor's story in part, then drop it for other topics (including a long-winded explanation of a Buddhist funeral rite) only to snatch them up again. Rather than build suspense about an individual's journey, this technique detracts from it. While an important contribution to remembering the tsunami and its aftermath, this book isn't the definitive tale. (Oct.)
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