Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hiroshima Nagasaki, Paul Ham

Hiroshima Nagasaki by Paul Ham

This was a book that sent shivers down my spine. There where a few reasons mainly due to it changing my perception of how the World War 2 ended.

Firstly it was always my understanding that the war had concluded due to the use of atomic weapons on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ham though argues and I think sucessfully that Japan was already looking for a way out prior to the first bomb been dropped on Hiroshima.

It was the Russian entry into the war which very quickly spread up the Japanese peace initiative. The Japanese leaders were terrified of Japan falling into Soviet hands.

The emperor Hirohito when he went on radio mentioned the horrors of the bomb as a reason for ending the war, Ham believes he did so as to 'save face' for the army which had been blitzkrieged in manchuria by the Soviets. (I found this the weakest argument yet it was still pretty plausible)

It seemed apparent that the US was hell bent on using their new weapon. I think there was an element that thought that it would speed up the end of the war. But in reality the caused as much destruction as the 'Firebombing techniques" (bombs which are dropped in a way and sequence as to create a firestorm sucking oxygen from the surrounding area and creating an inferno) which had already taken over 50 Japanese cities causing the loss of already millions of lives. .

The actual invasion of Japan had been called of indefinately even prior to the atomic bombs being dropped. The outcome would have been the same if the US had continued conventional bombing and the naval blockade of Japan.

The compelling reason for the bomb to be dropped was the unravelling of the allied partnership with the Soviets and the continued mistrust after potsdam. The dropping of the bomb in my mind was linked more to the cold war and was the opening gambit.

If I was Truman would I have dropped it? Nope. Yet its lingering affects, the horrors remained deeply imbeded in the leaders of the cold war for decades afterwars. You wonder if it was Hiroshima and Nagasaki memory which stopped them from pressing the button.

Errors, strangley I found one an 'F-13 fighter' which flew reconnisence after the bomb was dropped. The '13' made me wonder. Google revealed that no US fighter was ever given this designation due to the number...

I also found the chapter detailing the making of the atomic bomb overally technical and in someways interputed the flow of the book. I supose I'd been spoilt by reading 'The making of the atomic bomb' by richard rhodes.

Overall a great book which made me change my opinion 4/5


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