TRUMAN'S DILEMMA: Invasion or the Bomb

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TRUMAN'S DILEMMA: Invasion or The Bomb, Paul D. Walker, Pelican Pub. Co., Gretna, LA, 2003, 267 pages, $19.95.

If you believe that President Harry S. Truman made the right decision to drop nuclear weapons on Japan, this book will supply grist for your mill. If you feel that an invasion or blockade was an alternative, you might reconsider your opinion after reading this book.

A considerable part of Truman's Dilemma: Invasion or The Bomb deals with the philosophical and psychological mindsets of the Japanese toward defeat and surrender. Walker carefully develops the background of mid0 -0 20th0 -0 century Japanese perspectives and then shows how these attitudes translate into military operations, governance of conquered territories, and treatment of prisoners of war. Walker's descriptions of various battles and campaigns detail the Allies' problems caused by the fight-to-the-death dedication of Japanese military personnel and of Japanese civilians who actively fought with the army when defeat seemed imminent.

Walker faults General Douglas MacArthur with poor planning in the Philippines, decrying what seemed to be "a complete lack of coordination between the army and navy on defensive strategies. …