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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXLVIII: January 24 & 31, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of
an American Myth (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995).

[Thesis. The preponderance of the reality are produced (8-9). Part II


evidence is that geostrategic motives explores the complex way a myth of
(specifically vis-à-vis the Soviet Union— necessity developed (9-13). "None of the
usually referred to as "Russia" both in the officials involved in this tale had evil
text and by the officials dealing with that intentions. What can be said of them, I
country in 1945) promoted by Secretary believe, is that some of them became so
of State James F. Byrnes, and not military taken by the power the atomic bomb
necessity, was behind President Harry S. seemed to give them to do good (as they
Truman's decision to use the atomic defined it) that they seem to have gotten
bomb, though "a full and unqualified carried away" (13). (Alluding to a remark
answer as to why the atomic bomb was by Henry L. Stimson, "a man of great
used is neither essential nor possible. integrity" [13]): "We are all fine
What is important is whether, when the Americans who should have known
bomb was used, the president and his better about our own silent refusal to
top advisers understood that it was not confront the enormity of nuclear
required to avoid a long and costly weapons" (14).
invasion, as they later claimed and as
most Americans still believe" (317).] BOOK ONE: THE DECISION

Epigraph. Judith Lewis Herman on Ch. 1: The Trajectory of Japan's


trauma. Decline. "Among historians of World
War II it is now a commonplace that
Preface. This history neglects "non- Japanese power disintegrated rapidly in
essential details" to focus on "major the spring and summer of 1945—that
issues . . . most important . . . whether it from the early months of the year, their
was understood before the atomic bomb defeat was certain"; the U.S. government
was used that the war with Japan could was well informed of this (17; 17-22).
be ended by other means without
significant loss of life" (xiii; xiii-xiv). Ch. 2: General Efforts to End the
War. Because the U.S. had broken
Introduction: A Personal Note. Leahy Japanese codes (the "MAGIC" intercepts),
and Eisenhower believed use of the Americans were well informed that Japan
bomb was unnecessary and undesirable was putting out peace feelers from July
(3-4). The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey 1944 on; in fact, this had been reported
concluded in 1946 it was unnecessary in the Kiplinger Washington Letter in May
(4). Alperovitz's reading of Henry 1945 (23-29). History of the publicizing
Stimson's diary led him to raise the issue of knowledge of the MAGIC intercept, and
in passing in his Atomic Diplomacy: the intercepts themselves, 1951-1995
Hiroshima and Potsdam (1965) (5-6). An (29-30).
official U.S. historian concluded in 1990
that "the hoary claim that the bomb PART I: UNCONDITIONAL
prevented one-half million American SURRENDER
combat deaths is unsupportable" (7; 6-7).
Yet most Americans believe the opposite Ch. 3: April-May 1945. "[A]s the
(7). The focus in Part I is on documents summer of 1945 progressed, most U.S.
and illustrates how 'official' versions of leaders fully realized that the only
serious condition Japan's leaders sought Army attack on the isolated and rapidly
was an assurance that the Emperor deteriorating Japanese would almost
would not be eliminated" (34; 33-35). certainly precipitate a surrender either
The Japanese belief in the emperor's on its own or when combined with
divine nature was understood by assurances for the Emperor" (84; 83-85).
American officials (35-36). The demand Throughout the war, U.S. leaders wanted
for "unconditional surrender" was a Soviet entry into the war "the sooner,
adopted "almost accidentally by the better" (85; 85-95).
Roosevelt at the January 1943
Casablanca conference," and there was Ch. 8: Phase II: April 1945. But after
widespread support for its modification FDR's death on Apr. 12, in an
(36; 36-45). Truman appears to have undetermined and "odd" way the U.S.
continued to be willing to confine the "appeared to lose interest in a Soviet
demand for "unconditional surrender" to declaration of war"; Averill Harriman's
the military as opposed to the Emperor, disenchantment with the Soviets played
as his May 8 statement indicated (45-46). an important role (99; 96-110).

Ch. 4: To June 18, 1945. The reasons Ch. 9: Phase III: The New Reality. In
for Truman's decision on Jun. 18 to this period, which has been assessed
postpone clarification of the meaning of only superficially by historians, Truman
the U.S. demand for "unconditional underwent a "double shift in his attitude
surrender," when he appeared to be during a period of less than four weeks"
leaning toward making such a statement (111; 111-24).
before leaving for the Potsdam
conference, remain uncertain; not all PART III: ATOMIC DIPLOMACY
documents have been declassified (47-
61). Ch. 10: Preliminaries: April and May
1945. That strategy vis-à-vis Russia was
Ch. 5: June 18, 1945. Given all the at the heart of U.S. actions toward Japan
evidence, it "seems reasonable to at the end of the war is not known to the
surmise that it was [James F.] Byrnes[, general public (127-29). Truman first
then Truman's adviser, on July 3 to be his heard about the bomb from Byrnes, who
secretary of state] who influenced expressed then (acc. to Truman) his
Truman to reverse the thrust of his May 8 belief that it "might well put us in a
softening of the surrender formula" (70- position to dictate our own terms at the
71; 62-72). end of the war" [134]) and then in detail
from Stimson and Groves on Apr. 25
Ch. 6: From June 18 to July 2, 1945. (130-34). In April, the U.S. tried and
In this period it appears that "only failed to dictate to Stalin about the Polish
Byrnes, who formally took office on July government (135-37).
3, was opposed to modifying the
surrender formula" (79; 73-79). Ch. 11: Postponing a Confrontation
with Stalin. There is abundant
PART II: THE RUSSIAN OPTION evidence the U.S. wanted to wait until
the bomb had been proven to meet with
Ch. 7: Phase I: From Pearl Harbor to Stalin, though the evolution of Truman's
the Death of Roosevelt. "By thinking is hard to trace in detail; the
midsummer of 1945 intelligence experts, Hopkins mission was probably also
military and other officials, and the related to bomb development (138-54).
president himself, seem clearly to have
recognized that the impact of a Red
Ch. 12: The Interim Committee. The that he intended to make him secretary
Interim Committee was set up "to focus of state, the most important post in
specifically on issues connected with the government and next in line of
new weapon," was formed by Secretary succession in the absence of a vice
of War Henry Stimson and which president (197-98). Byrnes had already
included, at Stimson's suggestion, James served as congressman, senator,
F. Byrnes as Truman's representative, Supreme Court justice, director of the
(155-57). Its deliberations were strongly Office of War Mobilization, and Franklin
influenced by tensions with the Soviet D. Roosevelt's "'Assistant President for
Union over Europe (157-58). The the homefront,' essentially in charge of
Combined Development Trust had been running the entire domestic economy
pursuing a worldwide monopoly of with unprecedented authority" (198).
uranium supplies (159-63). Deliberations Byrnes, rather than Truman, had been
of the Interim Committee (163-72). expected to be nominated vice president
in 1944 (199). That Truman regarded
Ch. 13: The "Second Track" and Asia. him as his chief advisor and, indeed,
Strategizing in May 1945 was greatly agent, was well known, but the
influenced by playing off the possible informality of his position until he
need for Soviet participation in fighting became secretary of state on Jul. 3
Japan with concern about Soviet (delayed to avoid embarrassing
ambitions in East Asia, and there was Secretary of State Edward Stettinius on
intense interest in the timing of the the eve of the first U.N. conference)
availability of the bomb: 'The available limited the documentary record of his
evidence suggests that U.S. policy form influence (200). They were drinking and
late May to mid-July sought poker-playing buddies (201). Byrnes was
simultaneously to insure that the Soviet compulsively secretive, with a "passion
Union would enter the war if needed and for anonymity," in the words of his
to delay a final decision on Soviet entry assistant and friend Walter Brown, even
until the results of the atomic test were inventing his own "private stenographic
known" (182, emphasis in original; 173- note-taking code which to this day has
84). only partially been deciphered" (202).
"To put it bluntly, by virtually all accounts
Ch. 14: The Concerned Scientists. Byrnes was a very devious politician"
"[The scientists] had virtually no impact (202). Arthur Schlesinger Jr. said: "He
on government decisions," but an effort was a kind of prior Lyndon Johnson"
was made to placate them in order to (203). His concern for spin control
avoid PR problems later (185; 185-88). extended to editing and fabricating
Leo Szilard's Jul. 19 petition was delayed evidence (204). He did not keep those
by Gen. Groves; Truman seems never to around him abreast of his activities
have seen it (189-91). (205).

PART IV: JAMES F. BYRNES Ch. 16: Sly and Able Policies. There
are "reasons to believe" that in a private
Ch. 15: "A Very Machiavellian capacity Byrnes advised and influenced
Character"; "An Operator." Byrnes's Truman on a host of issues in the spring
historical role has been obscured by and early summer of 1945 (206-13). "It
subsequent events (195-96). Truman seems obvious that Byrnes saw the
regarded Byrnes as a mentor; Byrnes atomic bomb as important bargaining
regarded Truman as a nonentity (196- leverage, potentially useful in all manner
97). Truman informed Byrnes of international negotiations" (213-14).
immediately upon becoming president
Ch. 17: The Shadow of Yalta. Byrnes Soviet satellite countries) that were
had emerged as the "foremost central, because "top policy-makers were
spokesman for (and defender of) Yalta," thinking ahead to the time when the
which made him more interested in force of the new weapon would be
wringing from the USSR respect for the displayed" (264; 251-65).
promise of democracy and free elections
in Eastern Europe (215-19). Ch. 21: Second Decision. The view
that the U.S. worked to delay Russian
PART V: POTSDAM entry into the war by prolonging Russian-
Chinese negotiations was long resisted
Ch. 18: To the Big Three Meeting. but is now well documented (266-75).
News of the successful Trinity confirmed
at Potsdam the ideas of Truman, Byrnes, Ch. 22: The Bomb and Germany.
et al. about the bomb's effect on German reparations were a crucial issue
diplomacy and this became "embedded" for the Soviet Union; the U.S. toughened
in their "basic approach and specific its stance and effected an "open break
negotiating positions," leading to "a with Yalta" between July 21 & 23 because
conscious decision not to provide Japan of Byrnes's new confidence about the
with the specific assurances that had bomb (286; 276-89). "An entry in the
been sought for the Emperor" and "a diary of General Henry H. Arnold,
conscious decision not to encourage Commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces,
Soviet participation in the war" (225; in the midst of this period (after a dinner
223-25) Ralph Bard, the Navy on July 22, 1945) is also suggestive:
representative on the Interim Committee, 'Byrnes—what we must do now is not
was the only person formally to dissent make the world safe for democracy, but
from the use of the bomb without make the world safe for the U.S.A.'"
advance warning (225-27). Public (287). "The ongoing consequences of
pressure to clarify what "unconditional the long-forgotten dispute over
surrender" meant for the Japanese (227- 'reparations' at Potsdam are difficult to
32). A MAGIC intercept of July 15: the overstate" (290). U.S. leaders regarded
Emperor has caused a peace feeler to be the bomb as solving the "German
made to Russia (232-38). problem" (restraint of future German
aggression) (289-91).
Ch. 19: Clear Alternatives; First
Decisions. Truman learned of the Ch. 23: Third Decision. Byrnes was
successful Trinity test at 7:30 p.m. on the only adviser against clarifying to the
July 16, hours before his first meeting Japanese the meaning of "unconditional
with Stalin at noon on July 17 (239-41). surrender" (292-301).
Stalin committed to entering the war
against Japan on Aug. 15, which was Ch. 24: Theories and Choices. Some
Truman's chief objective at Potsdam have speculated that Byrnes's position
(241-47). Byrnes ruled out giving Japan was due to fear of political criticism of
advance warning (247-48). softness toward Japan or fears expressed
by Archibald MacLeish and Dean Acheson
Ch. 20: Removing the Soviet that the Emperor would be useful to
Blackout from Europe. "[T]he arrival future Japanese militarists, but there is
of Groves' full report by special courier little to support such views (302-11).
on July 21 was the psychological turning
point of the conference" (250; 249-51). Ch. 25: Unanswerable Questions.
There was stalling in Potsdam on the Ultimately it is not possible to know why
European issues (e.g. recognition of the bomb was used, but it is possible to
know that leaders knew it was not Ch. 29: Additional Perspectives.
needed to avoid a costly invasion (312- Given all this evidence, the ignorance of
17). the American people on this matter is
something extraordinary: "Something
PART VI: "MILITARY NECESSITY" about the way we have been willing to
think about this issue, it appears, has led
Ch. 26: Navy Leaders. Even given the to avoidance and oversimplification"
demand for unconditional surrender, (367; 366-67). Military leaders did not
"many military leaders seem . . . to have expect there would be a final invasion,
felt the use of the atomic bomb was not though there was planning for it (367-
dictated by military necessity" (321). 68). Both internal military reviews (the
Margaret Truman claimed in her U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and the
biography of her father that Truman 1946 War Department Military
consulted military leaders on use of the Intelligence Division study) concluded
bomb in a meeting near Potsdam on July the use of the bomb was unnecessary,
22, but there is no contemporaneous and so did contemporary journalists:
evidence of such a meeting (322-24). Hanson Baldwin, Great Mistakes of the
Navy leaders Leahy, King, Bieri, Nimitz, War (1950); Carl W. Borklund, Men of the
Dennison, and Byrd thought use of the Pentagon (1966) (368-70). So did British
bomb unnecessary (324-33). military leaders (370-71). Neither did
Churchill—though within a week after the
Ch. 27: Air Force Leaders. Hap use of the bomb he had changed his
Arnold, the commanding general of the position (371).
U.S. Army Air Forces, thought use of the
bomb unnecessary (334-35). Likewise PART VII: ENDGAME
Chennault, LeMay (though he later
expressed different views), Kenney, Ch. 30: Relations of Frankness. At
Eaker, and Spaatz (who refused to drop Potsdam, Byrnes made major decisions
the bomb without written orders, which without consulting expert staff and
Lt. Gen. Thomas Handy gave him on July limited access to the president (375-77).
25; he later, in 1965, said: "That was Planning for Potsdam involved preparing
purely a political decision, wasn't a for both eventualities: Russia in the war,
military decision" [345]) (335-45). There and not in the war; once news of the
is some evidence Truman decided to use Trinity test was absorbed, Truman and
the bomb at a June 18 meeting, but Byrnes stopped pushing for Russian entry
documentary corroboration has not been and tried to delay it (377-83). The
found (346-47). Though Arnold did not Interim Committee recommended
think the use of the bomb necessary, he sharing a trust-building communication
had bound himself to support Marshall in with the Russians, but Truman limited
all votes of the Joint Chiefs (347-49). himself to telling Stalin, on July 24,
vaguely about the bomb, calling it "a new
Ch. 28: Army Leaders. MacArthur weapon of unusual destructive force";
regarded the use of the bomb as Stalin asked no questions about it (383-
unnecessary (350-52). Gen. Eisenhower 89).
opposed using the bomb (352-58). Gen.
George Marshall, the Army chief of staff, Ch. 31: Navy Initiatives. There were
did not regard the use of the bomb as three navy initiatives to get Truman to
necessary at the time, but took that clarify the surrender formula, including a
position later, probably for political possibly unauthorized declaration by
reasons (358-65). then Capt. Ellis M. Zacharias's July 21
public radio broadcast stating that Japan
would have guarantees under the but not the atomic attacks; on Aug. 14 at
Atlantic Charter after unconditionally 2:49 p.m. local time (1:49 a.m.
surrendering (390-99). Washington, D.C., time) "Radio Tokyo
announced that Japan's surrender would
Ch. 32: "Mokusatsu." Signals coming shortly be forthcoming in accord with the
from the U.S. were extraordinarily new U.S. terms implicitly assuring the
complex and were confusing to the position of the emperor" (419; 418-19).
Japanese; on July 27-28 Prime Minister At 6:00 p.m. Washington time the formal
Suzuki announced that Japan would surrender reply was received from Tokyo
mokusatsu the Potsdam Proclamation; through Switzerland (419-20).
this neutral term meaning could mean
'withhold comment' but was taken to BOOK TWO: THE MYTH
mean 'treat as unworthy of notice' (400-
09). Introductory Note. Americans were
naturally inclined to accept the bomb's
Ch. 33: Race to the Finish. It is use due to the risk to U.S. lives (423-24).
dubious that U.S. leaders really
"misunderstood" what the Japanese were PART I: HENRY L. STIMSON
saying (410-14). Walter Brown's
contemporaneous diary entry of Aug. 3, Ch. 35: A Direct Approach to Russia.
as Truman was abroad the Augusta U.S. public opinion massively supported
returning from Potsdam, shows he knew the bomb's use (427-28). Racism played
Japan was "looking for peace" (415; 414- a role (428). The aging secretary of war,
15). Henry Stimson, grew increasingly
concerned at Byrnes's approach to the
Ch. 34: The End of the War. bomb as diplomatic leverage, and on
"Hiroshima was destroyed at 8:15 a.m., Sept. 12 wrote a memo to Truman
on August 6, 1945"; on Aug. 7 Japan tried proposing an "arrangement with the
to find out what Russia intended to do; at Russians" to avoid an arms race (428-
5:00 p.m. Moscow time on Aug. 8 the 34). Truman rejected his advice (434-
Soviet Union declared war on Japan; at 35). With McGeorge Bundy's help,
12:10 a.m. Manchurian time Aug. 9 Red Stimson began work on his memoirs in
Army troops crossed the Manchurian the late spring of 1946 (435-36).
border; "shortly after 11:00 a.m.,
Nagasaki was bombed" (416). On Aug. Ch. 36: A Thin Line of Criticism. Early
10, Truman told his Cabinet he had religious and journalistic critics (437-41).
"given order to stop atomic bombing. He Strong moral critiques were published in
said the thought of wiping out another early 1946 (441-43). Atomic tests on the
100,000 people was too horrible. He Bikini atoll were widely publicized (443).
didn't like the idea of killing as he said, Einstein deplored use of the bomb on
'all those kids'" (416-17; Henry Wallace's Aug. 19 (N.Y. Times front page) (444).
diary). On the morning of Aug. 10, after John Hersey's Hiroshima was published in
the Emperor acceded to it, the Japanese the New Yorker on Aug. 31 and as a book
Foreign Ministry "sent a surrender offer in the early fall of 1946 (444-45).
to its representatives in Stockholm and Norman Cousins denounced the "crime of
Berne" (417). On Aug. 11 Truman was Hiroshima and Nagasaki" in the Saturday
inclined to accept, but Byrnes persuaded Review of Literature (Sept. 14) (445).
him to take a harder position, which was Concerned, Harvard President James B.
sent; on Aug. 12-13 MAGIC intercepts Conant protested privately Reinhold
show Japan struggling with what to do Niebuhr's signing the Federal Council of
and discussing Russian entry into the war
Churches report criticizing the bombing the fact that Byrnes had conducted a
(445-47). diplomacy of coercion (479-80).

Ch. 37: "A Mere Recital of the Facts." Ch. 40: "Omissions Merely for
The story of how Stimson's 1947 Brevity." Stimson's Bundy-written
Harper's article was written was memoirs systematically neglect his diary
published only in 1989 and 1993 (448). when writing about the bomb, facilitating
Conant's motives were political and an inaccurate account (486-92).
ideological (449). Stimson acceded to Subsequent historiography on Stimson
requests he write, Harvey Bundy drafted (492-94). Bundy has slowly come to
an outline of arguments, and his son acknowledge the role of strategy vis-à-vis
McGeorge Bundy produced a draft the Soviet Union in the decision to use
delivered to Conant on Nov. 29, 1946 the bomb (494-97).
(450-53). Conant made extensive
suggestions and deleted all mention of PART II: PRESIDENT HARRY S.
the "unconditional surrender" issue and TRUMAN
the Emperor's status (453-54). Published
in the Feb. 1947 Harper's, the Ch. 41: The Man from Missouri. John
groundwork for the article's success was J. McCloy believed Truman succumbed to
thoroughly prepared (455-57). Byrnes in deciding to use the bomb (501-
04). In recent years Truman has been
Ch. 38: "An Exact Description." idolized as an honest politician (504-07).
Success of the article (458-60). The But Truman was also petty, conniving,
article (460-63). But it was at variance insincere, lacking in principle, and intent
with the facts, the most important on crafting his historical image (507-14).
"obfuscation" being the claim that
Stimson was told that "over a million Ch. 42: Main Elements of the Official
casualties" were averted, which "became Rationale. From 1945 to 1959 Truman's
the essential source for a myth which has estimate of the lives saved by using the
been repeated with only occasional bomb rose from "thousands" to "millions"
challenge for much of the last half (515-20). David McCullough's adulatory
century" (466; 462-68). "We do not popular biography of Truman falsely
know" where Stimson and Bundy got attributed "500,000 to 1 million lives" to
their "over a million" estimate (467). a June 4, 1944, memo by Gen. Thomas
Possible explanations; "[i]t is impossible Hardy of Marshall's staff—in fact, the
to know precisely what mix of conscious memo says that 500,000 is "entirely too
and unconscious motives produced the high" (520-21). Truman's claim that
Harper's article" (471; 468-71). Hiroshima was selected as a military
target was "simply false" (528; 521-28).
Ch. 39: "We Have Followed the There is no evidence that legal issues
Record." A number of insiders (esp. were considered at the time, though
William Castle and Joseph Grew) were Truman claimed that they were in his
dismayed by the inaccuracy of Stimson's memoirs (528-30).
article (472-76). Stimson's
correspondence with Grew implicitly Ch. 43: Nagasaki and "Year of
acknowledged that the bomb had Decisions." Truman was disingenuous
probably delayed, rather than hastened about Nagasaki (531-39). On ten
the end of the war (476-79). Stimson's important points, the first volume of
memoirs were edited to satisfy Marshall's Truman's memoir, entitled Year of
and Kennan's objections and to disguise Decisions, is inaccurate about the
decision to use the bomb (535-40).
Though written by ghostwriters, Truman Ch. 47: Leslie R. Groves. Gen. Groves
worked on the text paragraph by played little role in the decision to use
paragraph, and changed one ghostwriter the bomb, though he did "desperately"
when he raised objections to Truman's want it used (591-93). He was important
account (540-42). in organizing the drafting of press
releases (593-96). Stimson's post-
Ch. 44: Certain Classes of Papers. Hiroshima release was edited with
Truman was "loose with the facts" on the political intent (596-97). The strategy of
question of when the order to use the emphasizing and dominating reporting
bomb was given (548; 543-48). He did about technical issues was successful
not allow access to "certain classes of (597-600). Groves repeatedly used the
papers" (Cabell Phillips's phrase) (551; figure one half-million in "losses" avoided
548-52). Truman kept tight control over (600-02). Groves minimized
his Potsdam journals (552-59). The documentation and kept some of it under
journal text was used as the basis for his personal control until 1963 (602-07).
other texts at a time Truman denied it Groves appears to have believed that the
even existed (559-61). Japan's surrender was imminent in 1945
(607-08).
Ch. 45: "The Most Terrible Bomb,"
"The Most Terrible Thing." Truman Ch. 48: Censorship and Secrecy:
was conscious of the horror of the bomb, Rules and Exceptions. Strict press
but justified its use by appealing to Pearl censorship in Japan about Hiroshima and
Harbor (562-69). His subsequent efforts Nagasaki (609-11). The presence of U.S.
to justify his decision, sometimes to near POWs (and some 3,000 American
strangers, were so frequent as to suggest citizens) in Hiroshima became public only
"personal doubts" (569-70). in the 1970s (612-13). "Atomic energy
related information is 'born secret'; the
PART III: JAMES F. BYRNES Dept. of Energy in 1993 had 32 million
pages of classified documents = 32
Ch. 46: Disappearing From—and Washington monuments (614; 613-15).
Revising—History. Byrnes was "not Privileged insiders were given access,
much discussed in most early postwar notably Herbert Feis; Feis was
accounts" (573-74). This is due to 1) his remarkably "objective" given his close
dismissal in Jan. 1947; 2) the success of association with those he wrote about
the Stimson Harper's article; 3) lack of (615-22).
documentation; 4) Byrnes's own
evasiveness (574-79). His 1958 Ch. 49: Final Perspectives. The
autobiography, All in One Lifetime (579- official postwar evaluations were also
81). 1960 interviews (581-85). The full edited for political reasons (623-26).
1945 diary of Walter Brown (Byrnes's
friend and assistant) has not been made Conclusion: The Complicity of
public (586). In an Aug. 29, 1945, press Silence. American's have been
conference, Byrnes acknowledged the complicit in the myth, and with time have
Japanese were seeking a negotiated become more so (627-29). "Quite
peace before Hiroshima (586-87). In simply, it is not true that the atomic
1965 George Kennan privately criticized bomb was used because it was the only
Byrnes's approach (587-88). way to save the 'hundreds of thousands'
or 'millions' of lives as was subsequently
PART IV: MANAGING HISTORY claimed" (629). "[T]he president and his
advisers were aware of [the
alternatives]" (629). The argument that
conventional bombing was just as bad is policy-related meetings between FDR's
weak (630). The argument that the death and swearing-in as secretary of
bomb was used because of "momentum" state (669-70).
is false (631-33). Saving the most
possible lives was never a priority (633- Notes. 114 pp.
36). What happened in the atomic
bombings is very hard to grasp; perhaps Selected Bibliography. 182 archival
"military men" did so best (636-37). files; 25 government publications; 281
Moral questions of the gravest sort are books; 202 articles; 7 dissertations; 3
raised for "our nation" by the use of the films; 42 interviews or unpublished
bomb (637-38). Questions for the future papers (785-811).
(639-41). "Hiroshima teaches that even
the best leaders will lie to their people Acknowledgments. Family (813).
about the most fundamental issues if Support (813-14). Genesis of work (814-
they are not constrained by effective 15). Research team: Sanho Tree, Ted
checks and balances" (640). "The lesson Winstead, Katie Morris, Dave Williams,
to learn from men like Leahy and Leo Maley, Thad Williamson, Miranda
Eisenhower is that the place to begin is Grieder (815-17). Other scholars (817-
with personal choice" (641). 18). Archivists (818). Volunteer
researchers (818-19). Historians (819).
Afterword: Questions, Issues, and "[T]he writing of history is a deeply social
Major Theories Concerning the Use —and continually evolving—project"
of the Atomic Bomb. Evidentiary (819).
access explains many differences among
historians (643-44). Expert judgment Index. 23 pp.
that Japan would have soon surrendered
even without use of the bomb (644-46). About the Author. Gar Alperovitz is a
Much Japanese evidence supports this historian and economist, president of the
(646-48). Though the question is often National Center for Economic
framed as one of whether the U.S. could Alternatives, with, in 1995, academic
risk not using the bomb, "[t]he real risk— appointments at the Univ. of Maryland;
as the Joint Chiefs urged—was in not King's College, Cambridge; and Harvard.
telling Japan they could keep the He as also worked as staff at the U.S.
Emperor" (648; 648-52). The low-level House of Representatives and the U.S.
attempt by some Japanese officers to Senate. He is also the author of Atomic
block the surrender broadcast did not Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam
amount to much (652-53). Explorations (1965; 2nd ed. 1985; 3rd ed. 1994) and
of tactical use of atomic weapons were of has published in prominent newspapers
little significance (653). Arguments that and magazines.
the decision was driven by
considerations of money and racism are [Additional information. Gar
"suspect" (653-56). Various versions of Alperovitz was born on May 5, 1936, in
the momentum theory are weak (656- Racine, Wisconsin. He is married, has
61). Roosevelt would have been less two children, and lives in Washington,
likely to use the bomb (661-63). D.C. He holds a 1959 B.S. in American
Evidence that the bomb was viewed as a history from the Univ. of Wisconsin (Phi
diplomatic weapon is now overwhelming Beta Kappa), a 1960 M.A. in Economics
(663-68). from UC Berkeley, and a 1964 Ph.D. in
Political Economy from Cambridge
Appendix: Byrnes' Activities: April to University (U.K.). Alperovitz's Atomic
July 1945. Byrnes was in dozens of Diplomacy (1965) is credited with
beginning the "revisionist" controversy mention of the huge number of civilians
over Hiroshima. Since 1999 he has been killed at Hiroshima (and subsequently at
Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Nagasaki), and no acknowledgment of
Economy at the University of Maryland. the ongoing domestic and worldwide
Alperovitz is also the author of America controversy over the use of the atomic
Beyond Capitalism (2004) and Building bomb." — The Decision to Use the
Wealth: The New Asset-Based Approach Atomic Bomb has also been published in
to Solving Social and Economic Problems German, Japanese, Korean, and British
(2005), and the co-author of Cold War editions.]
Essays (1970, with Christopher Lasch),
Strategy and Program (1973, with [Critique. The Decision to Use the
Staughton Lynd), Rebuilding America Atomic Bomb is considered controversial
(1984, with J. Faux), Making a Place for by some, tendentious by others, and a
Community (2002, with D. Imbroscio and classic by many. Gar Alperovitz has been
T. Williamson), and co-editor of American charged by historians like Alonzo L.
Economic Policy (1984; with R. Skurski), Hambly with neglecting relevant material
as well as the author of hundreds of and misrepresenting the atmosphere in
articles and public lectures. Alperovitz wartime policy-making circles, and
has received major grants from the ideologically motivated critics like Robert
Rockefeller Brothers Fund (2004-2006), James Maddox and Jeff Riggenbach
the Knight Foundation (2005-2007), and dismiss him as a "New Left revisionist,"
the Ford Foundation (2006-2008). — but in general their accounts give no
The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb sense of the amount of evidence
was the basis of ABC's July 27, 1995, Alperovitz has amassed to support his
special, "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb Was views and ignore the fascinating 260-
Dropped," which took issue with the Air page account of how the myth of a
Force Association-mounted campaign military decision that aimed to minimize
that had led to the abandonment of an U.S. casualties developed. — The non-
interpretive exhibition at the Smithsonian specialist reader will find this work to be
(which Alperovitz judged "balanced") and —in contrast to most writing on the
the resignation of Director of the National subject—judicious, careful, and
Air and Space Museum Martin Harwit. measured. It remains an essential work,
See, by the AFA's John Correll, "The the longest and most thorough
Activists and the Enola exploration of the subject. — For
Gay"(http://www.afa.org/media/enolagay/ insights into the documentary record and
03-03.html). — Alperovitz revisited "the views of those who disagree with
continuing controversy" in "Enola Gay: Alperovitz, see
Was Using the Bomb Necessary?" (Miami http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/
Herald, Dec. 14, 2003), protesting the NSAEBB162/index.htm]
display of the Enola Gay "with no