By Mark Memmott

Publication of a highly publicized and well-reviewed book about survivors of the atomic bombing of Japan has been halted over questions about some of the reporting, including whether key characters existed, the Associated Press says.

Author Charles Pellegrino's The Last Train from Hiroshima has already been optioned by Avatar director James Cameron for a possible film. As Talk of the Nation said in January, the book tells "stories of those who lived through the world's first and only atomic bomb attacks."

Pellegrino made the rounds of many news outlets in recent months, including All Things Considered.

But the AP reports that:

"Publisher Henry Holt and Company, responding to questions from the AP, said Monday that author Charles Pellegrino 'was not able to answer' concerns about The Last Train from Hiroshima, including whether two men mentioned in the book actually existed.
" 'It is with deep regret that Henry Holt and Company announces that we will not print, correct or ship copies of Charles Pellegrino's The Last Train from Hiroshima,' the publisher said in a statement issued to the AP."

According to the wire service, among the potential problems was the publisher's inability " to determine the existence of a Father Mattias (the first name is not given) who supposedly lived in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, and John MacQuitty, identified as a Jesuit scholar presiding over Mattias' funeral."

The AP says Pellegrino did not respond to e-mail requests for comment.

About 18,000 copies of the book have been published already. Consumers can go back to their retailers to return the books for refunds, Holt says.

categories: History

1:10 - March 1, 2010