AUTHORFrank, Richard B.
TITLEDownfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
PUBLISHERRandom House, Inc.
CITYNew York, NY

With the premise that America’s use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified, the author, Richard Frank, attempts to re-create the historical context of 1945 in Japan and the United States in this book. He shows that Japan’s leadership, including Emperor Hirohito, and its military were not remotely close to surrendering in August of 1945. The author estimates that between 33,000 and 39,000 American servicemen would have died in an invasion of Kyushu. The book opens with a chapter describing the firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945. Presenting evidence from decoded Japanese radio signals, it documents a military buildup and a willingness to fight a land invasion. Frank illustrates the resistance of Japanese leaders against continued American bombardment and naval blockade, even in the face of appalling firebombing raids over Japan’s major cities. The thesis of this work is summarized in the following sentence from the last chapter: “Given the abrupt changes in the military calculus and the sterile prospects for diplomacy, the chance that atomic weapons would not have been employed is nil” (p. 259).

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