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A collection of quotes and thoughts by John Hersey on money, wealth, journalism, writing, books, bombarding, war, death, morality, politics and justice.

31 Notable Quotes By John Hersey On Journalism, Learning, Failure And More

Famous As: American writer

Born On: June 17, 1914

Died On: March 24, 1993

Born In: Tianjin

Died At Age: 78

John Richard Hersey was a prolific American writer and journalist, considered to be the flag-bearer of the ‘New Journalism movement’. This form of literary writing emphasized on narratives from reporters. This directly contradicted the conventional norms of journalism which focused on the facts pertaining to the story wherein the role of the reporter remained invisible. Hersey gained recognition after publishing a report on the aftermaths of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is still considered as one of the masterpieces of American Journalism of 20th century as it describes the cataclysmic effects of the bombing through eyes of the survivors. Hersey retained his legendary stature in writing through his works in ‘A Bell for Adano’ that bought him a ‘Pulitzer Prize’, ‘The Child Buyer’, ‘The Algiers Motel Incident’ and ‘The Call’. Hersey also received honorary degrees from various elite institutes such as ‘Yale University’, ‘The New School of Social Research’, ‘Wesleyan University’ and many more. He was also appointed as the chancellor by the membership of the ‘American Academy of Arts and Letters’. Let us go through some of the most apprising quotes and sayings from this pioneer of New Journalism. Take a look at the most famous quotations and thoughts by John Hersey which have been curated from the vast sea of his writings.

Journalism allows its readers to witness history; fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it.

John Hersey

There, in the tin factory, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.

John Hersey

My two major faults are that I row too long and pick up too many women

John Hersey

Do not work primarily for money; do your duty to patients first and let the money follow; our life is short, we don't live twice; the whirlwind will pick up the leaves and spin them, but then it will drop them and they will form a pile.

John Hersey

It's a failure of national vision when you regard children as weapons, and talents as materials you can mine, assay, and fabricate for profit and defense.

John Hersey

When the writing is really working, I think there is something like dreaming going on. I don't know how to draw the line between the conscious management of what you're doing and this state. . . . I would say that it's related to daydreaming. When I feel really engaged with a passage, I become so lost in it that I'm unaware of my real surroundings, totally involved in the pictures and sounds that that passage evokes.

John Hersey

What has kept the world safe from the bomb since 1945 has not been deterrence, in the sense of fear of specific weapons, so much as it's been memory. The memory of what happened at Hiroshima.

John Hersey

The second stage set in ten or fifteen days after the bombing. Its first symptom was falling hair. Diarrhea and fever, which in some cases went as high as 106, came next.

John Hersey

And, as if nature were protecting man against his own ingenuity, the reproductive processes were affected for a time; men became sterile, women had miscarriages, menstruation stopped.

John Hersey

...their faces were wholly burned, their eyesockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks.

John Hersey

The price one pays for having a kind man at one’s elbow.

John Hersey

Green pine trees, cranes and turtles ... You must tell a story of your hard times And laugh twice.

John Hersey

Many people who did not die right away came down with nausea, headache, diarrhea, malaise, and fever, which lasted several days. Doctors could not be certain whether some of these symptoms were the result of radiation or nervous shock.

John Hersey

All morning they watched for the plane which they thought would be looking for them. They cursed war in general and PTs in particular. At about ten o'clock the hulk heaved a moist sigh and turned turtle.

John Hersey

My prevailing interest has been in the world as a whole, and in the place of a person in a larger setting than one defined by national boundaries.

John Hersey

…she looked like Vivien, the Lady of the Lake, only she was fat and her lake was dust, sand and dust, bones and dust and sand.

John Hersey

I thought of God as being able to talk big and write *very* small.

John Hersey

To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again and once more, and over and over.

John Hersey

The writer must not invent. The legend on the license must read: NONE OF THIS WAS MADE UP.

John Hersey

The reality is that changes are coming... They must come. You must share in bringing them.

John Hersey

To my great surprise, I never heard anyone cry out in the disorder, even though they suffered in great agony. They died in silence, with no grudge, setting their teeth to bear it. All for the country!

John Hersey

Events are less important than our responses to them.

John Hersey

The final test of a work of art is not whether it has beauty, but whether it has power.

John Hersey

The third stage was the reaction that came when the body struggled to compensate for its ills - when, for instance, the white count not only returned to normal but increased to much higher than normal levels.

John Hersey

Learning starts with failure; the first failure is the beginning of education.

John Hersey

A writer is bound to have varying degrees of success, and I think that that is partly an issue of how central the burden of the story is to the author’s psyche.

John Hersey

The first stage had been all over before the doctors even knew they were dealing with a new sickness; it was the direct reaction to the bombardment of the body, at the moment when the bomb went off, by neutrons, beta particles, and gamma rays.

John Hersey

The doctors realized in retrospect that even though most of these dead had also suffered from burns and blast effects, they had absorbed enough radiation to kill them. The rays simply destroyed body cells - caused their nuclei to degenerate and broke their walls.

John Hersey

The crux of the matter is whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good might result? When will our moralists give us an answer to this question?

John Hersey

At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk.

John Hersey

To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over....

John Hersey