Masako's Story: Surviving the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, by Kikuko Otake, edited by Dr. Jesse Glass. Tokyo/Toronto: Ahadada Books, 2007, 94 pp. with photos and maps, $15 (paper)

The cenotaph for the Hiroshima victims reads "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil," but war goes on incessantly in what promises to be the most bloody of decades and the evil here referenced, the atomic bomb, is commonly flaunted as a threat. How then can the souls of the Hiroshima dead rest in peace?

One way is to keep them always in mind and never to forget what happened on Aug. 6, 1945. But that was over 60 years ago, the lifetime of a generation, and forgetting is a way of recovering. Also, while we can keep alive the death of a loved one or two, it is more difficult to feel the same way about larger numbers of people. With the best will in the world, we cannot encompass the emotional demands of thousands — and the atomic bomb destroyed hundreds of thousands of people.

In addition the dead have been drafted for political purposes. It is now commonplace to hear use of the bomb absolved by reference to all of those lives saved that would otherwise have been sacrificed. But those thus hypothetically saved are only nominally alive and those that the bomb killed are actually and irrefutably dead. The future can never vindicate the past. Only the present can do that. So how is memory of what happened in Hiroshima to be kept alive, to be retained in its pain and horror? Each year the task becomes more difficult.