A writer offers a defense of Harry Truman’s decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II.
Though Americans at the time viewed the use of atomic bombs against Japan as a “legitimate” means “to hasten the end of a long and bitterly fought war,” Vold (Farmer’s Son, Military Career, 2015) laments that too many revisionist historians today question the decision “on the basis of morality, legality, and necessity.” The bulk of his narrative provides a thorough and straightforward, if already well-documented, military history of the conflict between Japan and the United States during World War II. On their own, these chapters serve as a useful survey and introduction to the ferocity of the Pacific theater, and bolster his ultimate argument that the use of atomic bombs was necessary to prevent further brutality. With this context set, nearly 300 pages in, the author pivots to his goal of affirming Truman’s decision by taking on the president’s modern-day critics. To those who argue he could have used naval blockades in lieu of atomic weapons, for example, Vold contends that “those killed immediately by an atomic bomb explosion suffer the least” when compared to “those starving to death as the result of a blockade.” More importantly, he emphasizes that the end result of atomic warfare was that it led to a democratic and peaceful postwar Japan. The ends, or “results achieved,” justified the means. This amoral approach is characteristic of the author’s skepticism of moral arguments against using the bombs, as he claims “morality is an emotional issue…based on personal beliefs rather than a logical point of view.” Given his predilection for conventional military history, it is no surprise that his defense of Truman’s decision is in the realm of combat and geopolitical strategy. But a greater engagement with the social and cultural histories of the war is necessary to fully understand the nuances of American attitudes toward the Japanese. What role, for example, did propaganda that depicted Japanese soldiers as subhuman insects and animals play in Truman’s decision? Surprisingly, American racial attitudes are absent from Vold’s narrative.
A justification of Truman’s atomic bomb decision that overly relies on military and geopolitical history.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)