Ghosts of the Tsunami

Ghosts of the Tsunami

Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone

Book - 2017 | First American edition.
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On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of northeast Japan. By the time the sea retreated, more than eighteen thousand people had been crushed, burned to death, or drowned. It was Japan's greatest single loss of life since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. It set off a national crisis and the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. And even after the immediate emergency had abated, the trauma of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways. Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone. There he encountered stories of ghosts and hauntings, and met a priest who exorcised the spirits of the dead. And he found himself drawn back again and again to a village that had suffered the greatest loss of all, a community tormented by unbearable mysteries of its own. What really happened to the local children as they waited in the schoolyard in the moments before the tsunami? Why did their teachers not evacuate them to safety? And why was the unbearable truth being so stubbornly covered up? Ghosts of the Tsunami is a soon-to-be classic intimate account of an epic tragedy, told through the accounts of those who lived through it. It tells the story of how a nation faced a catastrophe, and the struggle to find consolation in the ruins.
Publisher: New York : MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.
Edition: First American edition.
ISBN: 9780374253974
Branch Call Number: 952.0512 Par
Characteristics: x, 295 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Nov 23, 2020

Parry's pedantic and tiresome prose would be damning enough. But was the way in which he condescends to the Japanese people he choose as his subjects that really renders this book unreadable.

Jan 17, 2020

I have read many accounts of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami--this book is the most beautiful and profound. The author has painstakingly interviewed many of those who lost loved ones as well as those who were caught in the water yet lived. Perhaps even more poignant, the book explores with fondness and sadness, the nature of the Japanese character. An important book.

Jun 28, 2019

A journalistic witness to the March 2011 tsunami in north-east Japan told through individual stories and particularly the death of children at Okawa School. The book does not address the nuclear meltdown nor mention the pressure of climate change as a factor in disasters. Most interesting is the backdrop of a culture of conformity and acceptance.

Apr 22, 2019

This is a page-turner and a heart-breaker.

John Dougill’s review of the book encapsulates it well:

Jan 31, 2019

Great book showing how people coped (or didn't ) with the tragedy on a personal and societal level. This stupid belief that a catastrophe "cannot happen to me but happens elsewhere, to others," brought death to 74 school kids, and the school admin as well as the school board did not want to take responsibility for their negligence. The Japanese are reticent to challenge the powers, that's how they are brought up.
A moving and insightful book.

Feb 07, 2018

Very well-written, but gut-wrenching at the same time. It's a reminder that while the original crisis may have occurred over a very short period of time, the after-effects--and the pain--go on and on...

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