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Hiroshima: The World's Bomb 1st Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192804372
ISBN-10: 0192804375
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rotter, a professor of history at Colgate (The Path to Vietnam), proposes to restructure the debate over the atomic bombing of Japan by putting the subject in a global context. His detailed analysis of Japanese reactions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki draws a commonsense conclusion: the nuclear strikes combined with Soviet intervention gave Emperor Hirohito the opening he needed to end a war clearly lost. America alone, however, did not decide to build the bomb; leading scientists in other countries worked on embryonic atomic bomb projects. Nor were Americans alone in considering the bomb's use. In Britain, Germany and Japan, false starts, scarce resources and wartime exigencies limited results. Rotter nevertheless concludes that any other power would have dropped a developed bomb with no more hesitation than the U.S. Ironically, the superpowers' mutual efforts to step away from the abyss in later years were accompanied by increasing and successful efforts by others to join the nuclear club: Britain, France, Israel, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea. The atomic bomb is now the world's bomb—as political, cultural and religious contexts increasingly deny that genuine noncombatants exist. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock continues to tick. 18 b&w photos. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


OUP should use Hiroshima as a paperback; it deserves the widest readership Ian Neary, Times Literary Supplement Rotter is not concerned exclusively with science. He is as much interested in the erosion of moral inhibitions on bombing civilians that took place during the first half of the twentieth century. Ian Neary, Times Literary Supplement, An absorbing multi-layered history... It deserves the widest readership. Ian Neary, Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (April 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804372
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,139,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By George M. Lady on July 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides an overview of the decision to drop the atomic bomb, the points of view and scientific development that led to the decision, and the post-WWII development of atomic weapons, presented country by country. Given this broad scope, the detail that can be provided is to a degree limited, but nevertheless sufficient, given the goals of the book. The author implies that the bombs were an atrocity in general, but well-explains why the decision makers at the time were more or less compelled to go ahead and drop the bombs. The later-day revisionism, critical of the bombs, is basically avoided; indeed, many of the arguments against the bombs are set aside, based on the facts. A good read on the topic.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter D. Couch on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book is somewhat misleading as it covers far more ground than simply an account of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The book traces the development of the A-bomb (though at a high level, and the reader interested in this subject would be far better off reading "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes). Alongside this the author lays out the parallel development of strategic bombing and the degeneration of morals on all sides as a result of the brutalities of the World War, both of which contributed to the climate in which the decision to use the weapon was made. The actual description of the events at Hiroshima takes up very little space as the author moves on to describe (again at a high level) the subsequent proliferation of nuclear weapons almost to the present day.

The book adopts a clear moral stance as regards the bombing, and while hedging somewhat, it is clear the author does not believe the bombings were a necessary part of winning the war against Japan. The decision to use the bomb is presented as almost inevitable with few of those involved expressing any serious moral reservations at the time. Furthermore, the author appears to believe, the bombings were far more a geopolitical statement to the Soviet Union rather than a military step to defeat Japan.

Unfortunately the book offers little new on the subject other than the idea that the bomb was the "world's bomb". This idea is based on the multi-national nature of the scientists that developed the theory and practical usage of the nuclear weapon and on the moral climate that made its use feasible. These are thin arguments at best.
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Format: Paperback
This is one volume in an interesting series from Oxford UP. It is a very, very good book, but be warned: this is not an easy read. It is aimed at the educated reader, and shades over into moral philosophy in wartime. It offers a detailed account of the conception and development of the weapon, and decisions related to targeting. This is more a political and policy history of the weapon than detail on engineering, recruiting personnel and so on.

An example of the kind of moral discussion is this. Quite deadly poison gas was available to all sides in the war, but no one used it. Rotter argues that the use of poison gas horrifies the world because it kills from inside a body, and that nuclear weapons are more acceptable. No, his explanation of that is not very clear.

The author is quite certain that it would have been used on the Germans had the bomb been available before the German surrender. He also argues that its use was inevitable because the huge resources devoted to it required a justification. This, Rotter argues, was perhaps more important in the decision to drop it than saving lives by shortening the war or to keep the Soviets out of Japan.
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By MSWu on April 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has the advantage of the perspectives of data and time to examine the historical events of the developing and dropping of the A-bomb. The events described in this book are in agreement with the Japanese documentaries about the years near the end of WWII by NHK, the Nippon (Japan) Broadcasting System. The author is the Dana professor of history at Colgate University. It is a well researched and well written book. I found it totally engaging and at times hard to put down. There is no personal or emotional outbursts like so many other writings about this horrible weapon but help rational people to look at the big picture. I wish this approach of clearly stating the facts are more widely adopted by all authors.
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