AUTHORSayle, Murray
TITLEDid the Bomb End the War?
PERIODICAL TITLEThe New Yorker
DATE PUBLISHED1995
VOLUME NUMBERn/a
ISSUE NUMBERn/a
PAGE NUMBERS40-64
ISSN0028-792X


In this July 1995 issue, The New Yorker offers a lengthy revisionist examination by Murray Sayle of the use of atomic weapons against Japan. The article traces the historical development of area bombing of civilian populations from German zeppelin attacks in World War I, to the firebombing of Hamburg and Dresden by the Royal Air Force, to America’s B-29 raids over Japan, especially the Tokyo raid of March 1945. Sayle discusses the racial and military distinctions in bombing Germans versus Japanese. He suggests the atomic bombs were used to intimidate the Soviets. Sayle claims that Truman’s passive acceptance was facilitated by General Groves’ determination to drop the bombs, paired with limited knowledge of decoded Japanese peace feelers to the Soviet Union. Only a few men working on the bombs knew about Japan’s desire to surrender, and even fewer understood the cultural context. The article is a comprehensive critique of the decision to drop the atomic bombs, containing many fine details and descriptions. It is followed by an excerpt from John Hersey's Hiroshima, published in 1946 in The New Yorker.


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