HIROSHIMA: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb by Ronald Takaki

HIROSHIMA: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb

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In a thoughtful and generally nonpolemical contribution to the extensive literature on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Takaki (Ethnic Studies/Berkeley; Democracy and Race, 1994, etc.) focuses on the complexities of the personalities of the American decision-makers, particularly that of Harry Truman. Takaki shows that the atomic bombings grew out of a psychology of mass destruction, fueled by a loathing for Japan tinged with racism; this led to massive firebombings of Tokyo and Yokohama that claimed tens of thousands of Japanese lives. After Japan's decisive defeat at Okinawa in June 1945, Takaki reveals, both Japanese and American war planners recognized that the war was over; American leaders, already preparing for the collapse of Japan, were planning the occupation months before the atomic bombs, and Truman and his generals recognized that the long-promised entry of the Soviet Union into it would end the war against Japan. Takaki argues that Japanese leaders, concerned about the retention of the imperial institution and rejecting the American demand of ""unconditional surrender,"" delayed surrender in order to seek a negotiated peace through the Soviet Union. Once the Soviets declared war, in early August 1945, the Japanese surrender (negotiated and conditional, after all, in that the emperor was permitted to survive) was rapidly forthcoming. Meanwhile, Takaki asserts that Truman, who claimed to be at peace with his decision for the rest of his career, was driven to use the bomb out of a deeply ingrained sense of insecurity; in fact, based on Truman's diaries, Takaki shows that he was a sensitive man, deeply troubled about his decision to use the bomb. An eloquent perspective on the atomic bombings, unusual for its simple focus on getting the facts right instead of blaming or exonerating those responsible for the decision.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0316831247
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"