Source fix in works on ‘Last Train From Hiroshima’
By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer Hillel Italie, Ap National Writer – Mon Feb 22, 8:18 pm ET
NEW YORK – The publisher of a disputed book about the atomic bombing of Japan has confirmed that a key source misrepresented himself and promises that any errors will be fixed soon.
Charles Pellegrino, author of “The Last Train From Hiroshima,” told The New York Times last week that he was likely duped by Joseph Fuoco. Fuoco claimed to have flown on one of the planes accompanying the Enola Gay, but surviving members of the crew said Fuoco was not on the mission and scientists and historians also doubted him.
Fuoco, who died in 2008, had said he was a last-minute replacement for flight engineer James R. Corliss. The family of Corliss, who died in 1999, had produced evidence that he was on the plane.
Film rights for the book, published to strong reviews in January, have been acquired by “Avatar” director James Cameron. An assistant to Cameron said Monday that he was en route from London to Los Angeles and not immediately available for comment.
Pellegrino, in a statement issued Monday by publisher Henry Holt and Company, said that since learning of his error that his “only concern has been to get the history right, in other words, to make sure that flight engineer James R. Corliss takes his rightful seat on that plane.”
Holt publisher and president Stephen Rubin said in a statement Monday that the changes would affect fewer than five pages of text and one illustration. No date has been set for release of a revised edition, which will include an author’s note.
“Mr. Pellegrino will eliminate Mr. Fuoco from the appendix, statements about his career after the war, his memories of Hiroshima, the illustration of his flight goggles and any specific references to Mr. Fuoco being on the Hiroshima mission of `Necessary Evil,'” Holt said in a statement.
No e-book of “Last Train” is currently available and Holt spokeswoman Nicole Dewey said were there no plans to accelerate the release of a digital text, where changes could presumably be made more quickly than in a hardcover or paperback.
Dewey also said that the publisher would not recall the 18,000 hardcovers currently in print. In a review last month, The New York Times’ Dwight Garner praised “Last Train” as a “sober and authoritative new book” and a “gleaming, popular wartime history.” Fuoco’s role was not mentioned.
Pellegrino and Cameron have worked together several times. Pellegrino consulted on “Avatar,” according to his Web site, and he appeared in the Cameron-directed documentary “Ghosts of the Abyss.” Cameron wrote the foreword for Pellegrino’s “The Jesus Family Tomb,” published in 2007.
Pellegrino, 56, has been in trouble before. “The Jesus Family Tomb,” co-written by Simcha Jacobovici, was strongly criticized by scholars and archeologists for alleging that a tomb in Israel contained the remains of Jesus and possible family members.
The author appears to be aware of his reputation. His Web site compiles harshly critical remarks about him and alleges that a leading Greek archaeologist questioned one of his previous works, “Unearthing Atlantis.”
“Most books and theories receive average, or middle-of-the-road reviews,” reads a note on the site. “Pellegrino’s reviewers are never middle-of-the-road. The bell curve isn’t even in it. People either love him, or they hate him.”