February 24, 2010

Holt to correct — not recall — Hiroshima book based on fraud


Henry Holt announced Monday that “it will correct all future editions of the Last Train from Hiroshima” by Charles Pellgrino after it was discovered that one of Pellegrino’s key sources for the book, Joseph Fucco, was a fraud, according to a Publishers Weekly report.

As in this earlier MobyLives report, Fucco had told Pellegrino he was a last minute substitute for an engineer named James R. Corliss on one of the planes accompanying the Enola Gay when it dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in August, 1945. Fucco also claimed to have witnessed a mishap with the bomb before the flight in which radiation was released, killing an American soldier.

Pellegrino apparently did not check the story with surviving witnesses or against numerous historical documents.

According to the PW report,

To make the corrections, Holt said Pellegrino is interviewing the family of Corliss and surviving service men from the mission. When those interviews are completed, Holt will release a list of corrections. All future editions–hardcover, paperback or electronic–will include the corrections and an author’s note explaining what has occurred. References to Fucco will be eliminated. There are no plans to recall the book; Holt has shipped about 18,000 copies. The total changes will amount to less than five pages of text and one illustration, said Holt president Steve Rubin.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.