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

By J. Samuel Walker | Go to book overview

ONE
A
CATEGORICAL
CHOICE
?

Despite an expression that suggested fatigue and
strain, President Harry S. Truman strode briskly
into the meeting he had ordered with his most
trusted advisers. It was held in July 1945 during
the Potsdam Conference, at which Truman was
deliberating with British Prime Minister Win-
ston S. Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin
over the end of World War II in the Pacific and
the shape of the postwar world. The president told
his advisers that he sought their guidance in order
to make a decision about what to do with a new
weapon—the atomic bomb. The first test explosion
of the weapon had recently taken place in the New
Mexico desert, and Truman had described it in his
diary as the “most terrible thing ever discovered.”1
He wanted his advisers to consider carefully the
need for using the bomb against Japan and to spell
out the options available to him.

The president, dapper as always with a double-
breasted suit, carefully folded handkerchief, and
two-color wing tips, nodded to Secretary of War
Henry L. Stimson to open the discussion. Stimson
had headed the War Department since Franklin D.

-1-

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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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