Book Review & Notes
Book Title: Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb
Author: Andrew J. Rotter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date Reviewed: May 18, 2009
Overall Score: B
1. P. 187. “Think of the kids who won’t get killed”, Truman wrote to his wife Bess on 18 July 1945 having heard about the Trinity test and having got Stalin’s agreement to enter the war.
2. LTC Paul W. Tibbets 29 year-old commander of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, the business end of the 509th Composite group. Told about the Manhattan Project (MP) and given the best B-29’s and the best pilots.
3. The notorious Japanese Unit 731 operating in Manchuria (chemical / biological)
4. The Japanese launched over 9,000 balloon bombs from Honshu into the Pacific Northwest in late 1944 and early 1945 bearing antipersonnel and incendiary bombs which caused several casualties.
5. Japan planned on defending the mainland with “Ketsu-go” or the big push. An estimated 30 million Japanese would defend the island with tokkō weapons. Such as: the ōka (Cherry Blossoms) “flying bombs”, the shinyō, plywood motorboats with high explosives strapped to their hulls, the fukuryō, or “Crouching Dragons”, frogmen who stayed submerged and holding mines at the ends of long wooden poles would ram U.S. landing craft in the shallows off Kyushu. 5000 Kamikaze would also strike at the beginning of ‘Olympic’.
6. P.190 Mission No. 13. General Curtiss Lemay ordered the bombing of Hiroshima from the 509th HQ on Guam. At 8:15 AM, the bomb detonated over Hiroshima roughly 1,850 feet AGL. Little Boy (Uranium core) blew 43 seconds after leaving the B-29 Enola Gay. Approximate power equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT.
7. P.193 Leslie Groves described Hiroshima as ‘an important Army base’. That was true, as far as it went. Hiroshima was HQ to the Japanese 2nd Army and Chogoka Regional Army, and it had been a major transit point for soldiers and supplies bound for war…the city’s ammunition depot was one of the country’s largest. There were also between 24,000 and 40,000 soldiers in Hiroshima that day.
8. P. 194 “There were approximately a quarter of a million people in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
9. The Japanese called the bomb: pika-don, or ‘flash-boom’
10. Everything is obliterated within 2.5 miles of Ground zero of the bomb aka: the hypocenter.
11. P.213 the Japanese Supreme War Council (the Big Six) debated over whether to accept the
Potsdam Declaration of complete surrender to America. They were torn over four major points or conditions: A.) the Kokutai, or the “right of the emperor to rule as determined by the Gods of antiquity”. B) Japan would be able to select which of their military commanders would go to trial for war crimes. C.) Japan would enforce its own disarmament. And D.) Japan would not be occupied by a foreign nation. We eventually agreed only to one condition, a modified version of Kokutai, wherein the Emperor was basically stripped of all of his power and humiliated in newspapers featuring the American General Douglas MacArthur seated above Hirohito at his palace.
12. P.216 At 10:00 AM in August 14th, 1945 the Emperor convened his 2nd imperial conference in five days…Hirohito spoke, his voice breaking… Continuing the war, he said, offered ‘nothing but additional destruction’. The American reply to the Japanese proposal he deemed ‘acceptable’ …for his part the emperor would broadcast a message over the radio to the Japanese people explaining to them why the end had come, why it was necessary to lay down arms. He recorded the message in his formal Japanese onto a phonograph record. Thereafter the ‘tears flowed incessantly’.
13. Among the circles of academics that discuss and debate the issue of the American use Atomic weapons against Japan the term “revisionists” refers to those considering whether the U.S. acceded to the Japanese surrender only after Stalin invaded Manchuria because they feared Russia would also snatch Japan. This group wonders if it was ever really necessary to drop the bomb on Japan or was the bomb primarily a warning to our primary future cold war nemesis and a demonstration of American power, a concept known as “atomic diplomacy”. Whereas, “Post-revisionism” regarding the bombing of Japan explores the morality and ethics of unleashing such a devastating weapon against a largely beaten foe.
14. P. 210 Fat Man bore messages written in chalk for the Japanese including this Haiku verse scrawled in the inside of the bomb’s tail-cone by engineer Harlow Russ: Sappy Jappy started scrappy, Bombed Pearl Harbor, Pretty Crappy. Jappy have reached end of scrappy, Bomb will knock Japan slappy happy.
15. P. 171 A poll conducted three days after Pearl Harbor claimed that 2/3 rds of Americans supported the indiscriminant bombing of cities in Japan, a sentiment sustained throughout the war.
16. Curtis Lemay’s XXI Bomb Group killed over 500,000 people with conventional incendiary attacks on and near Tokyo between March 9-10. Compared to the loss of life due to both Hiroshima and Nagasaki (approximately 300,000) one questions why the Japanese waited until after the A-bombs were dropped before deciding to surrender.
17. P.205 “Returning in early September to Hiroshima for the first time since she had been wounded by the bomb, Toshiko Sasaki, ‘horrified and amazed’, by the extent of the devastation , also saw something that ‘gave her the creeps’: Hiroshima was becoming verdant with new growth. ‘Over everything—up through the wreckage of the city, in gutters, along the riverbanks, tangled among tiles and tin roofing, climbing on charred tree trunks—was a blanket of fresh, vivid, lush, optimistic green.’ She saw ‘bluets and Spanish bayonets, goosefoot, morning glories and day lilies, the hairy-fruited bean, purslane and clotblur and sesame and panic grass and feverfew’. In less than two years, those that returned to Hiroshima were able to grow grains and vegetables on a scale that dwarfed production in nearby villages.
18. Mokusatsu (黙殺) is a Japanese word formed from two Chinese characters: "silence" (moku, 黙) and "kill" (satsu, 殺) and means the act of keeping a contemptuous silence. Some argue that the word was misinterpreted by the United States when the government of Japan used it as a response to American demands for unconditional surrender in World War II, which may have influenced President Harry S. Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Premier Suzuki Kantaro used mokusatsu to dismiss the Allies' Potsdam Declaration in 1945, during World War II. The word was employed in the morning edition of the Asahi Shinbun during World War II on July 28, 1945 to designate the attitude assumed by the government to the Potsdam Declaration. Later that day in a press conference, it was used by the Premier Suzuki Kantaro to dismiss the Potsdam Declarations as a mere rehash of earlier rejected Allied proposals, and therefore, being of no value, would be killed off by silent contempt (mokusatsu). Suzuki's choice of the term was dictated perhaps more by the need to appease the military, which was hostile to the idea of "unconditional surrender", than to signal anything to the Allies.
19. The Potsdam Declaration or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender was a statement issued on July 26, 1945 for the surrender of Japan. The PD was issued by U.S .President Harry S. Truman, U.K. PM Winston Churchill, and President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek that outlined the terms of surrender for the empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference. This ultimatum stated that if Japan did not surrender, it would face, “prompt and utter destruction”. Japan’s initial rejection of the ultimatum, by promulgating the condition that they be allowed to keep their emperor (Kokutai), and the impending Russian entry into the war, led directly to Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 6 and 9,1945. Whether the ultimatum was intended to be acceptable without recourse to use nuclear weapons has been subject to considerable debate.