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