Summary: Chapter 30, The Boiling City
As the B-29s continue to fly over Naoetsu and threaten bombings, the Bird becomes more enraged. He forces the POWs to endure extreme physical punishments, one of which is to punch each other in the face. Louie begs the Bird for work in order to receive full rations, and the Bird gives him a frail goat to take care of. Louie is responsible for keeping the goat alive, but when the goat dies, the Bird orders him to hold a six-foot long beam over his head until he cannot. He lasts for thirty-seven minutes before the Bird attacks him by punching him in the stomach.
A giant Allied raid comes on August 1. Thirty-five cities are showered with leaflets urging civilians to evacuate. These cities include Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Louie’s body is ravaged by dysentery. He is dehydrated and sick with fever. Meanwhile, the Bird continues beating the men. He forces Louie and others to do push-ups over the waste-pit. When they fail to do so, he pushes their faces into the waste. One day soon after, the Bird tells Louie that he will drown him the next day. Louie and other men develop a plot to kill the Bird by tying him to a boulder that would plunge him into the river below and drown him.
Hillenbrand offers narration about the experiences of the crewmen who drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Summary: Chapter, 31, The Naked Stampede
The POWs know that something big has happened, but they do not know what it is. They hear rumors, including that there is a cholera outbreak in Hiroshima. Days pass and the POWs continue to work. A guard asks them if it is possible that one bomb could destroy an entire city, to which they do not have an answer. One day, the Bird leaves camp. Louie is gravely ill at this point. He decides to walk outside and is beaten one last time by one of the guards whom he had previously considered harmless. Right after this, the men realize that all the guards are missing. The date is August 15. When the guards reappear, they act strange. A civilian tells one of the men that the war is over. Many of the men do not believe this report, but some begin to cry tears of joy.
Louie is very sick when he is handled a bundle of letters from his family, with photographs inside. This is the first time he has seen his family in any capacity in two and a half years, and it gives him some strength. Over the next couple of days, the men wait for something to happen. On August 20, they are told that the war is over. The POWs are told that they are allowed to bathe in the river. As they enter the water, a torpedo bomber appears. The men do not know if they will be killed but are overjoyed when they read the Morse code message of the American plane’s red light. The message confirms that the war is over. They celebrate by jumping, yelling, and even crying. One of the POWs retrieves a message dropped by the plane. The message tells them that food and more will arrive the next day. Another plane drops a magazine with an illustration of the atomic cloud over Hiroshima.