Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

Excerpt

Sixty years after the dropping of the atomic bomb and the Japanese surrender, we still lack a clear understanding of how the Pacific War ended. Historians in the United States, Japan, and the Soviet Union, the three crucial players in the drama of the war's end, have focused on a small piece of a large picture: Americans on the atomic bomb, Japanese on how Emperor Hirohito decided to end the war, and Russians on Soviet military actions in the Far East. But a complete story has not yet been told.

In the United States debate has continued as to whether the atomic bomb was directly responsible for Japan's surrender. As the 1995 controversy over the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum reveals, the atomic bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to strike America's raw nerves. But this debate has been strangely parochial, concerned almost entirely with the American story.

The intense drama leading to Japan's decision to surrender in the last days of the Pacific War has likewise fascinated the Japanese. Despite a continuous stream of publications on this subject, no serious scholarly work has critically analyzed Japan's decision in the broader international context. Until now, Robert Butow's study of Japan's surrender has been the most complete scholarly analysis on the topic in both Japan and the United States.

The works of Soviet historians bear the marks of the ideological straitjacket the Marxist-Leninist state imposed during the postwar period.

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