AUTHORWalker, J. Samuel
TITLEPrompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs Against Japan
PUBLISHERUniversity of North Carolina Press
CITYChapel Hill, NC

This book is a response to what the author sees as a popular historical misconception about why the atomic bombs were dropped. Walker disputes the idea that President Harry Truman had only two options for ending the war against Japan in the summer of 1945: to drop the bomb or order a costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. He presents historical evidence to show that Truman had other options for ending the war quickly. But he also suggests that the alternatives had major disadvantages that made the use of the bomb an easy and obvious decision for Truman. He takes issue with scholars who assert that Truman’s primary motivation was to intimidate the Soviet Union rather than to end the war as quickly as possible. Walker’s answer to the question of whether the bomb was necessary is “yes and no”. Yes, it was necessary to end the war quickly and to save American lives (though not the hundreds of thousands that Truman and others claimed after the war). No, it was not necessary to avoid an invasion of Japan because the war would probably have ended before the landing was scheduled to begin. The chapter end notes comprise an excellent bibliography.

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