Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill

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Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill

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Buy Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: The moving and thought-provoking tale of the recent tragedies to affect Japan. Well worth reading.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: October 2012
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0230341869

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In 2011, Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, followed by a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown. The tale of this devastating trio of tragedies is told by two journalists who've lived in Tokyo for years, and the pairing of Birmingham and McNeill give us a real insight into just how this could have happened and the way that half a dozen people, from all walks of life, responded to it.

As you'd imagine from the topic, this can be hard to read at times, but it's definitely worthwhile - it's both a damning indictment of some of the failures in planning, especially of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, and a hymn of praise to the ordinary people who rallied round to help each other survive such terrible problems. Following Mayor of Minamisoma Katsunobu Sakurai, nuclear power plant worker Kai Watanabe, fisherman Yoshio Ichida, teacher David Chumreonlert, school cook Setsuko Uwabe and recent school graduate Toru Saito, it deals with a real cross-section of Japanese society and is moving and touching in its description of the way people reacted to the events.

In addition to dealing with the recent tragedies, the authors also give us some background into the history of natural disasters in Japan, and the previous warnings given that had been ignored by people in power. A few pages of black and white photos help to bring home the scale of the damage done even more, and there's also interesting diagrams and maps showing the radiation and the height of the tsunami as it struck various towns, and the seawalls overwhelmed by it.

Even though I struggled with reading this - it's taken me far longer than any other book I've read recently - that's solely because of me being in the wrong frame of mind for a little while to read something this affecting. Birmingham and McNeill have created a compassionate and important book which both gives valuable information about one of the most important events of the last few years, and helps call to account both the Japanese government and TEPCO.

Strongly recommended.

My favourite non-fiction book of the year so far is another about Japan, Richard Parry's stunning study of the Lucie Blackman murder case People Who Eat Darkness: Love, Grief and a Journey into Japan's Shadows by Richard Parry. One warning - like this, it's deeply moving and at times upsetting.

Buy Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill at Amazon.com.

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