Classic of the week: Newsflash

John Hersey, Penguin, £7.99
It feels as if the knowledge has always existed: there is a weapon powerful enough to destroy civilisation. But when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945, no one knew what it was. (A petrol device, perhaps?) The doctors did not know the slow death coming to “survivors” was radiation sickness. Hersey’s calm, clear, humane account follows six people through the aftermath of that day. What they discover is already in the back of your mind; but that doesn’t make it any less shocking, or less necessary.