The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

Synopsis

This book is a balanced account of the political, diplomatic, and military currents that influenced Japan's attempts to surrender and the United States's decision to drop the atomic bombs. Based on extensive research in both the United States and Japan, this book allows the reader to follow the parallel decision-making in Tokyo and Washington that contributed to lost opportunities that might have allowed a less brutal conclusion to the war. Topics discussed and analyzed include Japan's desperate military situation; its decision to look to the Soviet Union to mediate the conflict; the Manhattan Project; the debates within Truman's Administration and the armed forces as to whether to modify unconditional surrender terms to include retention of Emperor Hirohito and whether to plan for the invasion of Japan's home islands or to rely instead on blockade and bombing to force the surrender.

Excerpt

This book is a general history of Japan's attempts to surrender and the United States' decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It concentrates on the last five months of World War II, April to August 1945. Although the study touches on the military, economic, and cultural aspects of the period, it focuses primarily on the political.

The sheer quantity of material was daunting, but the research was rewarding. It was filled with a rich mix of colorful and outstanding personalities, dramatic action, and momentous decisions that would influence the world to the present day.

The study raised a number of questions. How wise was President Harry S. Truman and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes in not including the retention of Emperor Hirohito in the Potsdam Declaration? Should they have relied more on the advice of State Department experts? Were military reasons the primary motive for President Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs? Despite evidence to the contrary, why did Japan's leaders continue to place their faith on the Soviet Union to mediate an end to the war? Who was right among the American generals in their disputes over whether an invasion of the Japanese home islands was necessary? Why did Truman rely more on the advice of General George C. Marshall and not on Admiral William D. Leahy, the top presidential military adviser? And as important, what role did the Soviet Union play in Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs?

The author's research owes much to the trail-breaking contributions by scholars who have written monographs and biographies in the field. I am also grateful to Salem-Teikyo University in Salem, West Virginia for providing me the financial opportunity to travel to Tokyo. There were many people who proved helpful to my project, but I am most grateful to my father, Louis Wainstock, a . . .

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