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A-bomb Scholarship

June 2024
1min read

I was bitterly disappointed at the lack of scholarship in Robert James Maddox’s “The Biggest Decision: Why We Had to Drop the Atomic Bomb” in the May/June issue. Whether one agrees with the decision or not, it is reasonable to expect the scholarship to be sound, and in this article it is not. The author’s dismissal of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey without offering the purported evidence that it was “‘cooked’ by those who prepared it” deserves at least a footnote in explanation. The pejorative language aimed at Dwight Eisenhower—“Eisenhower’s recollections grew more colorful as the years went on,” as well as “The best that can be said about Eisenhower’s memory is that it had become flawed by the passage of time,” while neglecting to mention Omar Bradley’s assertion that Eisenhower told Truman it was wrong to drop the bomb at a luncheon on July 20, 1945—is typical of the poor historical writing in this article. The author’s assertion on page 76 that “had the Japanese government sought only an assurance about the emperor, all it had to do was grant one of these men authority to begin talks through the OSS” directly contradicts a report by Alien Dulles that representatives of the Japanese armed forces did just that in Switzerland, along with banking representatives, all of whom he dismisses as “some minor Japanese officials.” Since we had no diplomatic relations with Japan at the time, these efforts along with the Prince Konoye mission to Moscow and other efforts in Russia clearly indicate the Japanese were serious. If one is going to justify the bombing, at least the scholarship could be sound; but this article is propaganda.

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