Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan

By J. Samuel Walker | Go to book overview

Preface to the Revised Edition

Sixty years after the end of World War II, the use of the atomic bomb against Japan continues to generate an evergrowing volume of scholarly literature and to trigger enormous controversy. Since I completed writing the first edition of this book in 1996, important new works have increased our knowledge of the context in which the United States attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons. But they have not stilled the debate over President Harry S. Truman’s decision. The revised edition of Prompt and Utter Destruction draws on scholarly findings that have appeared over the past eight years, especially research in recently opened Japanese sources that has greatly enriched our understanding of the agonizing deliberations in Tokyo over ending the war. The changes I have made are not extensive but they are important, and I hope they will enhance the book’s value.

The response to the first edition of the book has been very gratifying. Reviewers across the interpretive spectrum in the controversy over Truman’s decision to use the bomb were exceedingly kind, with the glaring exception of some who stand at the poles of the debate. I have also gained great satisfaction from the fact that scores of college professors and secondary school teachers have assigned the book to their classes. Many have told me that the book

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Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface to the Revised Edition ix
  • Preface xi
  • One - A Categorical Choice ? 1
  • Two - The Most Terrible Weapon Ever Known 7
  • Three - The Prospects for Victory, June 1945 20
  • Four - Paths to Victory 35
  • Five - Truman and the Bomb at Potsdam 53
  • Six - Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75
  • Seven - Hiroshima in History 98
  • Chronology Key Events of 1945 Relating to the Pacific War 111
  • Notes 113
  • Essay on Sources 131
  • Index 137
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