Winner of the National Book Award

“This overwhelmingly compelling book is the work of a man with great capacity for introspection, for empathy and vicariousness, and for comparative analysis.”

—David Riesman, Dissent

Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima

In Japan, “hibakusha” means “the people affected by the explosion–specifically, the explosion of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945. In this classic study, winner of the 1969 National Book Award in Science, Lifton studies the psychological effects of the bomb on 90,000 survivors. He sees this analysis as providing a last chance to understand–and be motivated to avoid–nuclear war. This compassionate treatment is a significant contribution to the atomic age.


“The primary thrust of Lifton’s book comes from his study of hibakusha, the tainted survivors of Hiroshima. Detailed examination of tape-recorded interviews is only a part of his survey of this psychohistorical calamity, the ramifications of which are still felt. He introduces and explains the significance of a variety of new concepts which emerge from the psychohistorical context as a whole….Death in Life is a magnificent book on several grounds….Its implications for future psychosocial research are also significant. . . .His literary skill and his psychological acumen blend harmoniously, as he formulates what is clearly beyond formulation.”

—Avery Weisman, M.D., Psychiatry and Social Science Review

“Professor Lifton is masterly in his analysis of the ambiguities that make the hibakusha so disturbed in himself and disturbing to us. He writes without jargon and without hectoring . . .”

—J. Bronowski, Scientific American

News and Reviews


“[A] compassionate and important study of the malaise that still pollutes the spirits of many survivors.”


“One of those rare works destined to bear witness and change the lives of those who read it.”

New York Times

“A significant contribution to the atomic age.”