Hiroshima: The World's Bomb

By Andrew J. Rotter | Go to book overview

Introduction
The World’s Bomb

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on 6 August 1945, seems in many ways an event characterized by clarity and even simplicity. From a clear blue sky on a radiantly hot summer morning came a single American B-29 bomber (warily flanked by two observation planes), carrying a single bomb. The plane was called the Enola Gay, after its pilot’s mother; the bomb bore the innocent nickname ‘Little Boy’. There were no Japanese fighter planes to challenge the Enola Gay, no airbursts of flak in its way. Japanese civil defense, evidently having been fooled by a lone American reconnaissance plane over the city an hour before, now did not bother to sound the alert that would have sent people in Hiroshima to air-raid shelters. The target of the bomb was the Aioi Bridge, which spanned the Ōta River at the heart of the city. At 8.15 Hiroshima time the crew of the Enola Gay released the bomb. Forty-three seconds later, at an altitude of about 1,900 feet, Little Boy exploded.

One plane, one city, one morning in August, one atomic bomb: simple. The commander of the Enola Gay, a 29-year-old air-force colonel named Paul W. Tibbets, had practiced many times during the preceding weeks and months dropping mock equivalents of atomic bombs, filled with concrete and high explosives, on an isolated patch of the Utah desert and in the Pacific Ocean. The way his plane bounced upwards once the bomb had been dropped and then detonated was no surprise to him. That the bomb worked, creating an awesome cloud of fire and smoke and dirt and buffeting the Enola Gay with its shock wave, was testimony to the technological competence of an American-based team of scientists, who had solved many (though hardly all) of the scientific problems the Second World War had presented. And there seemed to the crew of the plane that bright morning a moral simplicity to what they had done. The criminality of the Japanese—all Japanese, without distinction—was to them unquestionable.

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Hiroshima: The World's Bomb
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Making of the Modern World ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Praise for Hiroshima vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Plates xi
  • Introduction - The World’s Bomb 1
  • One - The World’s Atom 7
  • Two - Great Britain- Refugees, Air Power, and the Possibility of the Bomb 31
  • Three - Japan and Germany- Paths Not Taken 59
  • Four - The United States I- Imagining and Building the Bomb 88
  • Five - The United States II- Using the Bomb 127
  • Six - Japan- The Atomic Bombs and War’s End 177
  • Seven - The Soviet Union- The Bomb and the Cold War 228
  • Eight - The World’s Bomb 270
  • Epilogue - Nightmares and Hopes 304
  • Notes 310
  • Bibliographical Essay 340
  • Credits 356
  • Index 357
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