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The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb New ed. Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679762850
ISBN-10: 067976285X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Historian Alperovitz argues that America's use of the atomic bomb on Japan was motivated by politics rather than by military necessity.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The president of the National Center for Economic Alternatives argues that against all advice President Truman was persuaded to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by incoming Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who saw the bomb as an important tool for dealing with the Soviets after the war.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New ed. edition (August 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067976285X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679762850
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Graham M. Flower on March 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
My Father was drafted out of Harvard Graduate school. He scored very highly on IQ tests and was given a very sensitive job in the Ultra Code breaking project. He reported to a Lt General in the US army and was classified as an Army Intelligence officer. The story he told me before this book was ever published is identical to the general outlines of the story as related here by Alperovitz. He has always said that the Japanese were clearly looking to end the war a couple of months before the bomb was dropped. He also said that the general US military command was of the opinion that the Invasion of Japan was not going to be necessary Regardless of the presence of the Atom bomb or not. He cannot speak to what might or might not have been going on in Washington DC but he himself read the decrypts of Japanese messages being sent to intermediaries whom were charged with approaching the Americans with the intent to discontinue the war. He has said that the general consensus of the upper echelons of the military was that the bomb was used to intimidate the Russians who were behaving quite menacingly rather than to save American lives which might be lost in an invasion. He also said that he was always surprised that "nobody wrote a book about it". He was unaware of Alperovitz's work until I found it while in college.
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Format: Paperback
In an age when Truman has become the everyman's president, this book shines an extremely focussed light on what certainly is his most important decision. This book is not for the feint of heart. The story is told by reconstructing minute sequences of events from May through August of 1945 in order to unravel how the decision was made to deliver atomic weapons Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It uses excerpts from every written form of communication that has been found by historians in the past 50 years.
The book is very interesting on three levels. First, it immerses the reader in the flow of information that actually existed for the president an his closest advisors. Second, it highlights for the reader the two most vexing problems for the president -- how to handle the Japanese surrender AND how to handle the Soviets stanglehold on Eastern Europe. Third, it honestly confronts the myths that have explained why the Americans dropped the bomb and how it has been rationalized as the "right thing to do."
If you are a person that believes that the bomb saved "500,000 to a million American casualties and ended the war" and are willing to learn that this may not be true, read this book. Be warned though, it is very unsettling when one has believed this all ones life. I know I have been somewhat shocked.
All this said, the book could be called pedandic to a fault. There is much repetition because many of the key communications are used over and over to make numerous points. On the other hand, the repetition does keep the key stuff close to the uninitiated reader (me).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book, an exhaustive investigation into the process that led to the decision to use the atomic, tearing apart the official history.

With all this evidence, it is simply irrefutable that throwing the bombs was completely unnecessary to end the war and save lives (and Truman knew it when he made the decision), and that it was rather used against the Russians than the Japanese (destroying any hope of a peaceful postwar).

It's also an excellent book on how politicians distort the truth.

I usually do not write reviews (english is not my mother's tongue, and it's quite obvious) but I felt compelled to compensate for all the negative, unjustified reviews.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is incredibly important book reveals some of the behind-the-scenes thought processes that lead to Truman's decisions to use nuclear weapons on Japan. It's replete with supporting evidence, including quotes from the key players in the US, UK, USSR and Japan (taken from their diaries, memoirs, official records, diplomatic communications, intercepted comms, etc), and tries hard to be balanced and cautious with leaping to conclusions. The final assessment is that the opinion of nearly every single senior military and political leader in the US and UK before August 1945 was that Japan was utterly defeated and willing to surrender - especially once the USSR entered the war with them. Why drop the bombs if it wasn't necessary to end the war? It seems to have a lot to do with using the last opportunity to use them in war time (billions had been spent on developing them), and in sending a warning signal to Stalin.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Another book by an academic who starts out with a conclusion and then posits anything he can find that supports it, neglects or rejects any information that contradicts it. As pointed out by several others, the most telling information we have about the surrender and the effect of the bombs on it comes not from any Allied source, but from the records of the Japanese High Council. Who were dominated by the fanatic militarists who were so dead set against surrender they even stole the emperor's recording announcing it and considered kidnapping the emperor himself. They knew where the invasion was coming, and had prepared for it in incredible detail, it would have made Okinawa and Iwo Jima look like mother's milk. We'd have lost at least 100K men and had to kill at least 10 or 20 times that number of Japanese soldiers and civilians. The generals were sure that making the invasion so costly would let them negotiate a conditional surrender, which was their total goal by then. They had already lost more people in the fire bombings of the big cities than they did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that hadn't fazed them. Only the fact of a new and unheard of weapon gave the emperor and the civilians of the Council the chance to override the generals and accept unconditional surrender.
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