James Cameron Hiroshima Project Endangered Due To Authenticity Concerns Over Source Material

Back at the beginning of the year, when “Avatar” was still scaling the mountain of box office records set by “Titanic” in the ’90s, news emerged that director James Cameron had optioned a book for a possible follow-up project. Charles Pellegrino’s “The Last Train From Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back” is an oral history of the atomic bombing of Japan during World War II, told through interviews with “Japanese A-bomb survivors, American aviators, and classified documents of government officials” (according to the publisher’s original description).

That’s what it was supposed to be anyway. The latest twist is that publisher Henry Holt and Company will produce no further copies of the book nor will they ship any more completed editions, Yahoo! News reports. The decision was made in spite of strong reviews and Cameron’s film option because the reliability of Pellegrino’s sources was thrown into question after the author couldn’t address a number of queries, including the existence of two men mentioned in the book.

“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 an official statement.

The doubts first grew out of Pellegrino’s recent acknowledgment that one of his interview subject’s had falsely claimed to be aboard one of the planes escorting the Enola Gay, the B-92 bomber that dropped the first bomb. The questions then turned to two men — supposed former Hiroshima resident Father Mattias and John MacQuitty, who is claimed to have presided over Mattias’s funeral — who could not be identified as having actually existed.

In a further twist, Pellegrino’s own background has fallen into question. According to the author’s personal website, he received his PhD in 1982 from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. The Associated Press followed up on that following Pellegrino’s failure to address some questions about the book, and the university had no proof he had received that degree.

It’s a blow to Cameron, who has worked with Pellegrino extensively in the past. He served as an adviser on “Avatar.” Cameron wrote the blurb for “Last Train” as well as intros for Pellegrino’s “Ghosts of the Titanic” — Cameron made a documentary, “Ghosts of the Abyss,” with a similar focus — and “The Jesus Family Tomb.” The filmmaker hasn’t yet issued a statement, but it’s a safe bet that we won’t be seeing any “Last Train” movie now.

What do you make of this whole situation?