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  • Reanne Powell

A Song for Nagasaki

The horrors of the atomic bomb is a reality of WWII that doesn’t often get highlighted. We want to read about heroism and valor, not burning flesh and radiation poisoning. Yet this was the reality for the men and women of Nagasaki who lived through August 9th, 1945.

Born in Japan in 1908, Takashi Nagai spent most of his young adult life as an atheist. He was a top medical student at the University of Nagasaki when he began to question the meaning of life and the truth about God. This book tells the story of his conversion, his years as a military doctor, his passionate love for radiology research, and his incredible faith in the midst of deep suffering.

At some point in our life, we are faced with the question of why God permits suffering in our life. It can cause doubt, fear and anger to arise in our hearts, but our faith shows us that there is another way. With God’s grace we have the ability to suffer well, and see the beauty and purpose of pain in our lives. The story of Takashi Nagai gives witness to this in a powerful way.

Despite the loss of his wife in the A-bomb and a slow death from leukemia, Nagai’s faith and writings brought hope to a country ravaged by war. He lived out forgiveness and exuded a peace that could only come from a deep trust in God.

Every once in a while, we come across a book that profoundly impacts the way we view the world and our place in it. This was one of those for me. Every time I read the story of Takashi Nagai, I am pierced by the depth of his faith and convicted in my own journey with Christ.

Clinging to Christ in the midst of suffering and loss is the kind of heroism that we are all called to embrace. I can only pray for the grace to live that out.

You will not regret buying this book. Get it for yourself and pass it along to a friend.

Canada: Paperback - Kindle

From the back cover:

On August 9, 1945, an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing tens of thousands of people in the blink of an eye, while fatally injuring and poisoning thousands more. Among the survivors was Takashi Nagai, a pioneer in radiology research and a convert to the Catholic Faith. Living in the rubble of the ruined city and suffering from leukemia caused by over-exposure to radiation, Nagai lived out the remainder of his remarkable life by bringing physical and spiritual healing to his war-weary people.

A Song for Nagasaki tells the moving story of this extraordinary man, beginning with his boyhood and the heroic tales and stoic virtues of his family’s Shinto religion. It reveals the inspiring story of Nagai’s remarkable spiritual journey from Shintoism to atheism to Catholicism. Mixed with interesting details about Japanese history and culture, the biography traces Nagai’s spiritual quest as he studied medicine at Nagasaki University, served as a medic with the Japanese army during its occupation of Manchuria, and returned to Nagasaki to dedicate himself to the science of radiology. The historic Catholic district of the city, where Nagai became a Catholic and began a family, was ground zero for the atomic bomb.

After the bomb disaster that killed thousands, including Nagai’s beloved wife, Nagai, then Dean of Radiology at Nagasaki University, threw himself into service to the countless victims of the bomb explosion, even though it meant deadly exposure to the radiation which eventually would cause his own death. While dying, he also wrote powerful books that became best-sellers in Japan. These included The Bells of Nagasaki, which resonated deeply with the Japanese people in their great suffering as it explores the Christian message of love and forgiveness. Nagai became a highly revered man and is considered a saint by many Japanese people.


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