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Thank God for the Atom Bomb Mass Market Paperback – January 14, 1990


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 14, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345361350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345361356
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A conservative cultural critic with a passion for nude beaches and the Indy 500 auto race, Fussell (The Great War and Modern Memory) explores some of his pet topics in this miscellany of essays and articles. The title piece, a defense of Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, generated lively controversy when it first appeared in the New Republic; a spirited exchange from that journal is included here. Elsewhere, Fussell hails George Orwell's essays as a refreshing counterweight to today's "theory-ridden" criticism. Mulling the difference between tourists and travelers, he offers disarming observations on travel writers Paul Theroux and John Krich. One piece explores how patriotic fervor thrust Carl Sandburg's propaganda tracts into the literary limelight. Fussell has quirky, interesting things to say about gun control, war poetry, chivalry and modernism as an offshoot of the "melodrama of the French Revolution."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Most of these 14 essayson topics ranging from Hiroshima to the Indy 500originally appeared in the New Republic , Sewanee Review , and other periodicals. One essay praises George Orwell for virtues that Fussell himself has cultivated: an accessible style, a lively interest in the social uses of language, and "a power of facing unpleasant facts." Fussell is even keener on exposing the euphemisms and illusions of others. His most valuable pieces deal with the horrors of modern warfare and its literaturesomewhat extending and generalizing his powerful The Great War and Modern Memory (1975). Libraries with well-educated browsers would find this worthyif not mandatorywhile those covering the two World Wars would find it worthier still. Donald Ray, Manhattanville Coll. Lib., Purchase, N.Y.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I like books that challenge my way of thinking.
LBC
It deals in one detailed chapter with the reasons for a very difficult historical fact.
Peter P. Fuchs
I admit, I was attracted to this book because of the title.
DWD's Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Susan Salisbury on September 20, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The title essay alone is worth the price of the book. This is a thoughtful, and irrefutable analysis of the reasons for the decision and the correctness of it. It is the only analysis I had read when I first read this essay years ago, which pointed out that Hiroshima and Nagasake were 5 days apart. Clearly, no warning would have been enough to cause the Japanese to surrender because the first bomb alone was not enough to bring about their surrender.

For those who think that it was wrong to drop the bomb knowing it would hit civilians, how about the heavy bombing of Tokyo done with conventional bombs. There was no ability to bomb very selectively in those days. Based on the losses suffered in invading Okinawa, including the number of Japanese Civilians killed in that invasion, it can reasonably be argued that, as a result of the two bombs being dropped, and the ultimate surrender of the Japanese leadership, fewer Japanese civilians were killed than would have been killed in the invasion of Japan.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on May 29, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I admit, I was attracted to this book because of the title. Our library had it featured on its web page with some excerpts and I was intrigued. I was not disappointed.

The title essay is simply brilliant. It is also caustic, blunt and nuanced. I'll refer to it before the next time I teach about World War II.

There are two more essays on World War II. I found the two essays on George Orwell to be most interesting. His commentary on the differences between tourism and travel reminded me of the Twain essays I've been reading lately. "Taking It All Off In The Balkans" is the account of his visit to a nudist resort in the former Yugoslavia - very funny and (I've got to say it) revealing.

Two essays were just not interesting to me, being mainly about poetry and I find myself unable to muster the interest to read poetry, let alone read extensive commentary on it. I skimmed those.

The essay on the 2nd Ammendment ("A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.") comes off as a poorly-researched rant as opposed to the well-researched arguments made in the Atom Bomb essays. It stands out in this collection for that reason.

The other oddball essay is my 2nd favorite (after the title essay). Fussell went to the Indy 500. Try to imagine an East Coast college professor who writes about poetry standing around Indy's infamous snakepit and the guys with the "Show us your t_ts" signs. Fussell's comments are quite observant and show that he really spent some time walking around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and getting a feel for racing in general. Having just attended my 24th Indy 500 six days ago I was especially interested in his comments. I would be most interested in seeing Fussell's thoughts at having more racial diversity in the fields and 3 women in the race nowadays.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TLR on August 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
What we now know about the decision to drop the Bomb makes it less defensible than it once was, though one can certainly understand the perspective of a young soldier who thought he would have to take part in an invasion of Japan. Fussell was an insightful and sharp writer (as his essential book "Class" proves). The following quote pretty much sums up his thinking:

"'A Power of Facing Unpleasant Facts' - The words are [George] Orwell's in his essay 'Why I Write.' From childhood, he says, he might have sensed that he was going to be a writer, for already he had `a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts.' The latter, he implies throughout his career, is necessary not just to any writer but to any honest thinker. And it's notably a power, not merely a talent or a flair. The power of facing unpleasant facts is clearly an attribute of decent, sane grown-ups as opposed to the immature, the silly, the nutty, or the doctrinaire. Some exemplary unpleasant facts are these: that life is short and almost always ends messily; that if you live in the actual world you can't have your own way; that if you do get what you want, it turns out not to be the thing you wanted; that no one thinks as well of you as you do yourself; and that one or two generations from now you will be forgotten entirely and that the world will go on as if you had never existed. Another is that to survive and prosper in this world you have to do so at someone else's expense or do and undergo things it's not pleasant to face: like, for example, purchasing your life at the cost of the innocents murdered in the aerial bombing of Europe and the final bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And not just the bombings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter P. Fuchs on January 3, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
All that needs to be said is that this is a very heartfelt and brilliant book. It deals in one detailed chapter with the reasons for a very difficult historical fact. The reasons given are very personal and thus, on one level I believe, unassailable, since the author contends he would have lost his own life but for the fateful decision. Worth considering for those given to quick judgments on the matter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LBC on May 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I have to say from the outset that I've read a lot of Paul Fussell. I know that a lot of people don't like his writing but I do enjoy his style. I do think he's very abrasive but I assume, because I don't know the author, that that was his style of getting people to think outside of the box and also to begin a dialogue.
Having said that the title of the book, and the author explains this quickly, is based on the perspective of the author as a WWII soldier who is headed to Japan to die. Mr. Fussell has no doubt that he and his company will die fighting the Japanese when the Americans attack. With this point of view in mind he is happy the war ended. He is of the opinion that those that questioned the morality of dropping the bomb AT THE TIME of the dropping were sitting comfortably in an office and not on the front lines of fighting. I do know that my step-father was on the front lines in Europe, Patton's Third Army, reluctantly told me the same. He was happy when he heard the news of the bomb, didn't know or see the ramifications of the bomb until later, because the war and fighting would end and he and his fellow service members would probably survive. He is the most kind person I know and doesn't have a vindictive bone in his body.
I should also say I'm a veteran, and while I was not in WWII, I do know what it is to lose friends during recent wars. It does give one a different perspective because in the moment you care more about the men and women around you than those "on the other side" of the conflict. It is only long after the fact that you have time to reflect that all soldiers are human beings.
Mr. Fussell goes on the write about much lighter subjects but continues to not mince words.
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