- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316831247
- ISBN-13: 978-0316831246
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Ethnic studies professor Takaki argues that racism and a desire to intimidate the Soviet Union were important factors in the decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Back Cover
The bombing of Hiroshima was one of the pivotal events of the twentieth century, yet this controversial question remains unresolved. At the time, General Dwight Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, and chief of staff Admiral William Leahy all agreed that an atomic attack on Japanese cities was unnecessary. All of them believed that Japan had already been beaten and that the war would soon end. Was the bomb dropped to end the war more quickly? Or did it herald the start of the Cold War? In his probing new study, prizewinning historian Ronald Takaki explores these factors and more. He considers the cultural context of race - the ways in which stereotypes of the Japanese influenced public opinion and policymakers - and also probes the human dimension. Relying on top secret military reports, diaries, and personal letters, Takaki relates international policies to the individuals involved: Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer, Secretary of State James Byrnes, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and others... but above all, Harry Truman.
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Whatever arguments Truman and his team have resorted to justify nuclear bombing does not carry weight upon a closer analysis.There was no need for Americans to invade Japanese mainland.Japan was pulverized from the air by American bombers and US Navy subs had imposed a virtual maritime blockade so much so that ordinary Japanese had started feeling the pinch.If Americans had kept up this devastating attacks for a few more months ,Japan would have collapsed.This has also been the opinion of America's leading soldiers.However President and his men had no patience for this form of warfare.
If the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan was prompted by a desire to intimidate Soviet Union ,as author has endeavoured to show ,then one must admit that incident backfired.Stalin saw to it Soviet Union was not subjected to an American nuclear blackmail by quickly developing a nuclear deterrent.
Japan was willing to surrender despite opposition from die-hard militarists. But only obstacle was they sought clarification about Emperor's status;never wanted emperorhood abolished.President thanks to media propaganda had a warped view about Japanese;considered them scounderels for launching a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor thus deserving terrible punishment.If Truman had endorsed this Japanese demand which he later accepted the horrible human tragedy could have been averted.
Conditional ultimatum while issuing Potsdam declaration would have ensured Japan's surrender.
This racist talk is nonsense generated by leftist loons who were severely disappointed that the Soviets did not get a piece of Japan as they did with North Korea for a whole week of war. Between 130,000 and 210,000 non-Japanese, Asians were dying at the hands of the Japanese EVERY month by 1945. Were their skins not yellow enough for the revisionist left to deem them worthy to be saved from further depredation?
The most hilarious assertion is Takaki's, naive acceptance of the projected casualty estimates of MacArthur et al. Suddenly, the Left abandons its whole 'military intelligence is an oxymoron, generals always preparing for the last war, turn out the light at the end of the Vietnam tunnel' shtick and swallows whole the early casualty estimates of generals, admirals, and the newly minted Air Force proponents seeking to underbid each other in a horrid attempt to win the lucrative conquer Japan "contract" for their branch!!! Silly!
BTW MacArthur assumed that the Kyushu landings would be opposed by a maximum of 137,400 Japanese defenders, while, in fact, there were already over 287,000 by July with at least another 100,000 projected by the Nov 1, D-Day, almost triple the MacArthur estimate. MacArthur wanted the conquer Japan "contract" so badly that he claimed that he would incur fewer casualties in taking the Japanese homeland than the Americans suffered taking Okinawa. Too silly for words.
Also, we didn't want to repeat the mistake made after WWI, when the German high command, much of the anti-democratic apparatus of Germany and the Kaiser were left intact while the nation's economic instability of the nation was virtually assured. The rise of the Nazis and its sequelae were inevitable. What happened to Germany at the end of WWII was the removal of the military and political leadership from any positions of power (Well, not quite all of them. Some ex-Nazis were too useful to be squandered by hanging.) What eventually happened to Japan was similar. However, the Samurai class customs and Emperor worship made that more difficult in Japan's case. Yes, we allowed the Emperor to remain on the throne, but we needed to make it plain that he was no longer Japan's Emperor; he belonged to us and we would do as we liked with him.
That said, we now know that we sent carefully hedged proposals to the Japanese near the end. We reworded these to indicate that we weren't interested in Japan's permanent occupation or the destruction of its 'culture' in one wording of the message. Another diplomatic phraseology said to be used was that we would only accept the unconditional surrender of "Japanese military forces", an even broader hint to my way of thinking here. The 2005 BBC documentary concerning Hiroshima claims that the Japanese political and military hierarchy misinterpreted our softening of terms as a sign of weakness, thereby strengthening the position of the old-school militarists in its high councils- that with the suicidal willingness of Japan's population to die for the Emperor it could repel the invaders and save the nation and the nation's honor. So yes, with the wisdom of hindsight we could have waited IF we were willing to let the Soviets take possession of more Japanese territory.
So yes, our goals probably included some push-back on Stalin both in Asia and eastern Europe. That would have included strategies of intimidation and pre-emption of occupation. We couldn't have known then, but we now know that Stalin took unfair advantage of the occupation of E. European and Germany and created satellite nations out of them. Territories of the Japanese homeland that the Soviets did succeed in occupying were absorbed outright. What if they invaded and conquered more Japanese territory? How many lives on both sides would be lost if they did? Under what conditions would their Japanese subjects live? Those of the Warsaw pact nations? So, I think there was some reason to prevent Soviet occupation of Japan.
As a side note, when Truman told Stalin at Potsdam that we possessed a weapon of unprecedented power, the latter all but shrugged it off: "Oh? Really?" Truman was puzzled. What he didn't realize at the time was that many of our nuclear secrets were already in Soviet hands, and the latter were well on their way to making their own bomb. So Stalin knew exactly what the American was talking about, he was confident Russia would soon catch up and he might have learned through espionage that we had only one more bomb ready to go and couldn't amass an arsenal of nukes in time to take advantage of our head start. Perhaps the lesson to be drawn from this little incident was that both powers were girding for the cold war. One thing on which scholars now agree was that Truman's final decision on the matter was made shipboard before he reached the US following the conference, in consultation with his foreign policy advisor (Secy. of State?) James Byrnes, and with no records left behind. What the 2 men discussed will likely never be known.
My experience with people, and therefore with history, is that they act with multiple motives, sometimes unconscious in origin. We non-experts have a habit of trying to reduce the motives to one factor only. In this context, it is asserted that we dropped the bomb to intimidate the Soviets, period. Or else we were simply conducting human experimentation on a grand scale, period. Most likely, IMHO, Truman's decision was made for a number of reasons, and we are thus left with the task of assigning relative significance to these. C
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