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Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb Hardcover – August 1, 1995

24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0316831222 ISBN-10: 0316831220 Edition: American

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A widely accepted theory is that President Harry Truman ordered the atomic bomb dropped on Japan to end the war quickly and to avoid the massive casualties that would have occurred during an Allied invasion. That view, according to Takaki, is simplistic. He argues that Truman's overriding concern-American policy toward the Soviet Union-led him to hope that a combat demonstration of the bomb in Japan would lead to Soviet postwar cooperation and discourage that country's imperialist expansion. Takaki also contends that the President's readiness to use the bomb was linked to America's racial rage against the Japanese and to Truman's own racist attitudes. Takaki's Harry Truman will be unfamiliar to most readers: insecure, unable to say no to strong-willed officials such as Secretary of State James Byrnes, struggling to overcome his childhood identity as a sissy by means of macho behavior, suffering remorse over his historic decision. Right or wrong, the study is a provocative addition to the unresolved debate over the dropping of the atomic bombs. Takaki is a professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

My grandfather emigrated from Japan to work on the cane fields of Hawaii in 1886, and my mother was born on the Hawi Plantation. As a teenager growing up on Oahu, I was not academically inclined but was actually a surfer. During my senior year, I took a religion course taught by Dr. Shunji Nishi, a Japanese American with a Ph.D. I remember going home and asking my mother, who only had an eighth-grade education: "Mom, what's a Ph.D.?" She answered: "I don't know but he must be very smart." Dr. Nishi became a role model for me, and he arranged for me to attend the College of Wooster. There my fellow white students asked me questions like: "How long have you been in this county? Where did you learn to speak English?" They did not see me as a fellow American. I did not look white or European in ancestry. As a scholar, I have been seeking to write a more inclusive and hence more accurate history of Americans, Chicanos, Native Americans as well as certain European immigrant groups like the Irish and Jews. My scholarship seeks not to separate our diverse groups but to show how our experiences were different but they were not disparate. Multicultural history, as I write and present it, leads not to what Schlesinger calls the "disuniting of America" but rather to the re-uniting of America. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; American edition (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316831220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316831222
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My grandfather emigrated from Japan to work on the cane fields of Hawaii in 1886, and my mother was born on the Hawi Plantation. As a teenager growing up on Oahu, I was not academically inclined but was actually a surfer. During my senior year, I took a religion course taught by Dr. Shunji Nishi, a Japanese American with a Ph.D. I remember going home and asking my mother, who only had an eighth-grade education: "Mom, what's a Ph.D.?" She answered: "I don't know but he must be very smart." Dr. Nishi became a role model for me, and he arranged for me to attend the College of Wooster. There my fellow white students asked me questions like: "How long have you been in this county? Where did you learn to speak English?" They did not see me as a fellow American. I did not look white or European in ancestry. As a scholar, I have been seeking to write a more inclusive and hence more accurate history of Americans, Chicanos, Native Americans as well as certain European immigrant groups like the Irish and Jews. My scholarship seeks not to separate our diverse groups but to show how our experiences were different but they were not disparate. Multicultural history, as I write and present it, leads not to what Schlesinger calls the "disuniting of America" but rather to the re-uniting of America.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 149 people found the following review helpful By A. Pohaku on July 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
I totally disagree with Professor Takaki. I am a Japanese American like he is and I was subjected to racial discrimination just after Pearl Harbor perhaps not as much as he had (if he was born then) because I lived in Hawaii and not sent to internment camp. Nevertheless I felt the sting of discrimination. I was a military member of the military intelligence service assigned to ATIS a division of General MacArthur's G2 or Intelligence Section.

We saw many highly classified documents at the headquarters and involved in numerous translations of enemy documents. We were also sent on temporary duty assignment on special missions to the frontline units and engaged in scouting and capturing enemy soldiers and interrogating them. I had experience at the lowest and the highest level. Therefore, I have my own perspective of why the A bomb was dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The casualties for both cities exceeded 210,000 people. The strategic bombing of Japan in six months exceeded 300,000 casualties and millions homeless. Invasion planners stated blockade of Japan chokes but does not kill. The bombing destroys cities but not the army. General Eisenhower agreed. General MacArthur was for the invasion and use of the A bomb for tactical purpose. Subsequent data showed he was wrong.

Operation Olympic the invasion of Kyushu was to be launched in November 1945. I was scheduled to be assigned to the 1st Corps to invade Miyasaki, Kyushu by the 6th Army under Gen. Krueger. The XI Corps to land at Ariake Bay to the South and the Marine V Amphibious Corps to land on the southwestern shore. We would have faced 790,000 Japanese versus our 550,000 troops.
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91 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Philip Greenspan on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like other GIs I was delighted when I heard the news of the atomic bombing of Japan. Within a year or so several articles appeared that described the deaths and sufferings of the innocent Japanese civilians in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These articles caused many people to have second thoughts as to the wisdom of the decision. In the 70s I read Gar Alperovitz's book, "Atomic Diplomacy", and was convinced the bombing was a mistake. I was shocked by the Smithsonian controversy--an honest portrayal of both sides of the subject could not be shown. During the periods mentioned I was exposed to writers who discussed various aspects, pro and con, of the bombings.
Although I had previously read quite a bit on the subject, I decided to read "Hiroshima" because I wanted to refresh my knowledge of the bombing, I had read a most favorable review of the author, and the book was small--I could read it in a short time.
It was a good decision. The book packs a tremendous amount of pertinent information within its short length. Besides the decision itself it explores factors that might have influenced that decision. These would include: the desire for revenge of Pearl Harbor; to impress Russia and make her more manageable; the racism that existed in Truman and America and was exacerbated by the war; the masculinity factor of a new president who wished to show he was no wimp.
One gets to see that there was considerable disagreement before and after the bombing as to the wisdom of the decision. The dissenters were not a bunch of revisionist historians but many prominent Americans in the military, government, science and the media. The names include Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas McArthur and Admiral William Leahy-many who would be considered conservatives if they were alive today.
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40 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 29, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like many people, I managed to exist my formal schooling knowing very little about the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In preparation for an extended trip to Japan, I wanted to learn a little more about this important event.
Ronald Takaki does an excellent job encapsulating the political climate in the U.S., Japan and Russia of 1945. The death of Roosevelt and the elevation of Truman to the presidency had a profound impact on world events. These presidents had different philosophies concerning the use of atomic weapons, and the world might be a very different place had Roosevelt lived to see the end of the war. Truman and Stalin provided a smooth transition from World War II to the beginnings of the Cold War.
Ultimately, I left "Hiroshima : Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb" with a better understanding and appreciation of why America decided to use atomic weapons against Japan. Takaki provides motivations for most of the key players, along with supporting evidence. The book is extremely readable, and was as captivating as any novel.
Whether or not dropping the bomb was "good" or "bad" is left up to the reader. Honestly, I have yet to decide.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 1997
Format: Paperback
I used "Hiroshima" in a high school history class and found that the students could access Takaki's ideas, sources and themes fairly easily. His summary of Truman's insecurities from boyhood throuh his term in office had an impact on the students in my class. I would recommend this book for those who have at least some degree of knowledge regarding World War II and the era. Some of Takaki's points make use of obscure evidence that may seem unapproachable to the lay reader. However, to someone versed in the topic, "Hiroshima" is a fresh look at the American motivations behind dropping the bombs.
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