Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The novel is based on Levinson's archives, dug out of the ruins of the Ghetto after the war. The archives are fictional but the information...

(The entire section is 455 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Hersey's novel, written five years after the end of World War II, is an early part of what has since become a whole library of books dealing...

(The entire section is 860 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Sources for Further Study

Fiedler, Leslie. “No! in Thunder.” In The Novel: Modern Essays in Criticism, edited by Robert Murray Davis. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969. In discussing authors from his point of view that “art is essentially a moral activity,” the controversial Fiedler accuses Hersey of being the author of “The Sentimental Liberal Protest Novel” who fights for “slots on the lists of best sellers” with his “ersatz morality.” The essay makes for lively reading at best.

Gutman, Israel. Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

Huse, Nancy L. The Survival Tales of John Hersey. New York: Whitston, 1983. An eminently readable and informed study on Hersey that is useful in understanding the scope and development of Hersey as a writer. Explores the relationship between art and moral or political intentions. Includes extensive notes and a bibliography.

Kassow, Samuel D. Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

Sanders, David. “John Hersey.” In Contemporary Novelists, edited by James Vinson. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982. Covers Hersey’s work from wartime journalist to novelist. Cites The Wall as his greatest novel and considers him the “least biographical of authors.” A rather dense study but helpful in quickly establishing themes in Hersey’s writings. A chronology and a bibliography are provided.

Sanders, David. John Hersey Revisited. Boston: Twayne, 1991. A revised edition of Sanders’s 1967 study. The first chapter introduces Hersey’s career as reporter and novelist, and subsequent chapters discuss his major fiction and nonfiction, including his later stories. Includes chronology, notes, and bibliography.

Sanders, David. “John Hersey: War Correspondent into Novelist.” In New Voices in American Studies, edited by Ray B. Browne, Donald M. Winkelman, and Allen Hayman. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1966. A well-known scholar on Hersey, Sanders defends him and insists that he should not be dismissed because of his popularity. Traces Hersey’s origins as a war correspondent and the writings that emerged from these experiences. Finally, Sanders settles the dispute as to whether Hersey is a novelist and hails him as a “writer.”

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Nazi atrocities in Poland were vividly described in The Black Book of the Polish Jewry (1943). A section on the destruction of the...

(The entire section is 334 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Here to Stay: Stories in Human Tenacity (1962) is a book of essays which includes Hiroshima, Hersey's most famous survival...

(The entire section is 134 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Milton Lampell's dramatization of The Wall, a play in three acts, opened at the Billy Rose Theater, New York on October 11, 1960....

(The entire section is 144 words.)