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Publication halts on new book on Hiroshima bombing

Publication halts on new book on Hiroshima bombing

Questions about Charles Pellegrino's "The Last Train from Hiroshima," a new non-fiction account of the atomic bombing, have led Henry Holt and Co. to halt publication. According to the Associated Press, the book had received strong reviews and had been optioned for a possible film by "Avatar" director James Cameron. But Holt, responding to questions from the AP, said that Pellegrino "was not able to answer" several concerns, including whether two men mentioned in the text actually existed.

The first questions popped up recently after Pellegrino acknowledged that one of his interview subjects had falsely claimed to be on a plane accompanying the Enola Gay. More questions arose about two men, Father Mattias and John MacQuitty, featured in the book. According to the AP, Pellegrino said MacQuitty was "a changed identity," which he had neglected to note in the book's acknowledgments section.

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Oddly, though, the book was still featured on Holt's website this morning, with this description: "Last Train from Hiroshima" offers readers a stunning "you are there" time capsule, gracefully wrapped in elegant prose. Charles Pellegrino's scientific authority and close relationship with the A-bomb's survivors make his account the most gripping and authoritative ever written.

That doesn't quite match the tenor of a Holt's statement on the controversy: "The author of any work of non-fiction must stand behind its content. We must rely on our authors to answer questions that may arise as to the accuracy of their work and reliability of their sources. Unfortunately Mr. Pellegrino was not able to answer the additional questions that have arisen about his book to our satisfaction."

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