Our Conversations on Last Train from Hiroshima
This is an update on the status of Charles Pellegrino’s book, Last Train from Hiroshima. We both decided to share our latest emails to keep you abreast of what’s going on over the controversy that arose after the book was released. Mr. Pellegrino is revising the original for publication.
From: Charles Pellegrino: ( He wrote this email to Mr. Henry Alter after reading my book Mosaic Moon.)
Naturally, I’ve been very busy with radiation-deniers from the 509th, the Air Force, my publisher and the N.Y. Times being fooled by someone pretending to be a Los Alamos physicist, New Zealanders reaching out to help me (like Dr. Ken Goldie, who was there when all the trouble began) and revelations that the ad hoc tribunals of the 1980s were more extensive and secretive than anyone imagined.
But I haven’t forgotten you and Orion.
In fact, I’ve been reminded of all of you in elder care advocacy by having finally taken an afternoon to have a few cups of tea and read some poetry.
Which brings me to a book of poems that is hard to describe but which is helpful to anyone who has dealt with or is dealing with a friend or family member living with Alzheimers, late stage Parkinsons, etc. It’s called “Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry, by Frances Kakugawa, Watermark Publishing, Hawaii (now in its second printing). I’ve CCd the author. You may want to get in contact.
Frances: Thanks for pointing me to page 91. I haven’t had a chance to finish – but on every page I turned to, I found beauty. (That is not my usual experience with books of poetry).
Wow, this means a lot.
I’m on my third poetry writing support group for caregivers in Sacramento now and we’re still walking out with beautiful poems. The caregivers are getting younger and younger.
Back to your work, I’m feeling good that you’re not going to succumb to all that pressure from the 509th. I’ve been thinking about their threat of having a book burning event when your revised book is out and I thought one couldn’t ask for a better promotional event, don’t you think? Book burning in the 21st century will have its consequences. Truth will prevail.
Thank you so much, Dr. Charlie.
from Charles Pellegrino:
I think exactly the same thing about the threat of book burning. Steve Rubin (at Holt) shuddered at the thought of “his” book being burned and shown on U-Tube and he insisted that we had to get the 509th “on our side”… and “make this all go away – quickly.” My response was that he should be thinking of getting more cameras to cover the burning, if anyone in the 509th was extremist enough and foolish enough to go through with a book-burning.
Rubin thought I was nuts.
My agent told him he was nuts, if he thought he could get the 509th on our side because “Last Train” was an anti-war book and the people who dropped the atomic bombs would never be on our side.
Then a blogger punked the publisher with a new spin on a very old story about the New Zealand Ad Hoc Tribunals (an event during which Christian Fundamentalists [in the U.S.] actually did burn the book that was causing all my trouble in New Zealand – “Darwin’s Universe”). The publisher has since looked at the documentation I sent RE my Ph.D. and my ad hoc tribunal experience (including my Ph.D. Dissertation, published in a peer-reviewed science journal; including letters proving that my two labs had indeed been ransacked and that one of the fanatical vandals sat on a self-named “ad-hoc” tribunal against which the protagonist [yours truly] was denied the most basic human right of refuting the charges or even being allowed to know what the charges were in the first place) – to say nothing of the scientists who came to my defense against the ad hoc tribunals (some of whom appear under the “Testimonials” Section on my website).
On Amazon and elsewhere, Holt withdrew its claim about the “phony” Ph.D. They also relented on the story of the two priests (who could be cross-referenced in at least two of my prior books).
About a day later, a revised Holt message appeared on Amazon suggesting that there may be other people (besides the two priests) about whom I was unable to answer questions for Holt management. This is true only to the extent that I then had no relationship with Holt (it took almost all of three months for my agent to get a reversion of rights so that a new American edition can at last be published); and I could answer no further questions because they never asked me anything further. (By the way, my editor at Holt, Jack Macrae, has stood by me this whole time. They’re not all evil over there. Jack is one of the best editors I’ve ever had.)
The 509th probably will not like the new edition. Far from diminishing Charles Sweeney I have written more about him (no matter what the Tibbets camp says, I for one came to admire Sweeney); and I have introduced another that some among the 509th dislike: Robert Lewis (known for the line, “My God, What have we done?”). Robert Lewis and Norman Cousins had befriended one of the survivors who will be appearing in the new edition.
The crazy time is not over. I’ve recently received a letter from the publisher RE a complaint from a reader suggesting that double survivor Tsutomu Yamaguchi was fictionalized, that there was no last train from Hiroshima to Nagasaki (actually, I wrote about two trains); and that the priest who died in Auschwitz in another man’s place (Mr. Yamaguchi’s hero) was also a fiction. I do not understand this emerging pattern of declaring the priests in this story as fictional. I’m counting three, so far. It’s as much a mystery as the dichotomy between Japanese survivors who hid themselves and tried not to let it be known that they had survived the atomic bomb (poor Kenshi Hirata has recently described his surviving both bombs as the great shame in his life), while enough Americans are now known to be falsely trying to claim glory by saying they were aboard the atomic missions that, in the words of one 509th veteran, the planes would never have gotten off the ground if these impostors were all really there.
- – Charlie P.
Stay tuned…as our conversations continue.
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