Hiroshima, Nagasaki The real story of the atomic bombings and their aftermath

Paul Ham

Book - 2014

In this harrowing history of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Paul Ham argues against the use of nuclear weapons, drawing on extensive research and hundreds of interviews to prove that the bombings had little impact on the eventual outcome of the Pacific War.

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2nd Floor 940.5425/Ham Checked In
New York, N.Y. : Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press 2014.
First U.S. edition
Item Description
Originally published: Australia : HarperCollins Publishers, Australia Pty Limited, 2011.
Physical Description
ix, 629 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 535-601) and index.
Main Author
Paul Ham (author)
  • Winter 1945
  • Two cities
  • Feuersturm
  • President
  • Atom
  • The Manhattan Project
  • Spring 1945
  • The Target Committee
  • Japan defeated
  • Unconditional surrender
  • Trinity
  • Potsdam
  • Mokusatsu
  • Sumer 1945
  • Tinian Island
  • Augusta
  • Hiroshima, 6 August 1945
  • Invasion
  • Nagasaki, 9 August 1945
  • Surrender
  • Reckoning
  • Hibakusha
  • Why
  • Dead meat.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In 1945, in the midst of secrecy about the development of the atomic bomb and ongoing debates over the most "efficient" way to end the war with Japan, American leaders made the fateful decision to launch nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings certainly stopped the war and destroyed its targeted cities, killing more than 100,000 people, but had they been necessary? Ham presents a forceful argument that the bombing was excessive and unjustified. Alternate chapters recount the building tension toward the awful decision by the Allies and the day-to-day lives of starving Japanese caught between their aggressive emperor and military and sure retaliation. In this sweeping and comprehensive history, Ham details the geopolitical considerations and huge egos behind evolving theories of warfare, the burgeoning killing technology of biological and nuclear war on the part of the Japanese and the Allies as well as the shameful tactic of dehumanizing the Japanese enemy. But most powerful are the eyewitness accounts of 80 survivors, ordinary people caught up in the events of war, who felt the terrible destruction of a nuclear blast and its aftermath of radiation sickness. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

The focus of this comprehensive history of the US discovery and use of atomic bombs is the bomb's impact on the Japanese surrender in 1945 and on the subsequent Cold War.  The book is well-written and has many human-interest descriptions.  The major theme is that the bomb was unnecessary.  Ham argues that with Japan's non-functional military, collapsed economy, and starving population, an invasion of Japan's home islands was unnecessary.  Japanese military leadership hoped for a lenient peace through Soviet mediation.  The USSR's declaration of war and easy defeat of the Japanese forces undermined the morale of the Japanese leaders.  Ham makes a strong case, and the effect of the Russian attack deserves stressing.  There is no assurance, however, that surrender would have come before far more damage was done to Japanese cities and to US and Japanese forces.  Ham's choice of evidence is a bit one-sided.  For example, he plays down the military uprising against the surrender.  This coup came very close to success, in spite of the fact that the second bomb had been dropped and the Soviet attack was succeeding. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. --P. Scherer, Indiana University at South Bend Paul H. Scherer Indiana University at South Bend http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/CHOICE.187629 Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Australian journalist Ham (Sandakan) re-examines the atomic attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, confronting the popularly held belief that the nuclear attacks were justified because they ended WWII in the Pacific without a costly invasion of Japan's home islands. Ham's central argument is that such an invasion would not have occurred because the American leadership had deemed it too costly in potential U.S. casualties. Ham backs up his assertion by pointing out that both American and Japanese commands were well aware that Japan was already defeated by the summer of 1945 through the combined effects of naval blockade and conventional air bombardment. He counters the common justification for the atomic attacks by proposing that the strongest influence for the attacks was the threat of Russia entering the Pacific War and dominating Asia after the war. An absorbing and thoroughly researched work, it is a must-read for those interested in the moral aspects of total war and military strategy in general. Ham's work will be cited as an important addition to a debate that continues 70 years after the event. (Aug.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Examines the history of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, arguing that it had little impact on the eventual outcome of war in the Pacific.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A comprehensive history drawn from eyewitness accounts challenges the belief that the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the war in the Pacific to an end, arguing that the bombings were unnecessary to the war's outcome, especially because they cost tens of thousands of human lives. By the author of Kokoda.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In this harrowing history of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Paul Ham argues against the use of nuclear weapons, drawing on extensive research and hundreds of interviews to prove that the bombings had little impact on the eventual outcome of the Pacific War. More than 100,000 people were killed instantly by the atomic bombs, mostly women, children, and the elderly. Many hundreds of thousands more succumbed to their horrific injuries later, or slowly perished of radiation-related sickness.Yet American leaders claimed the bombs were "our least abhorrent choice"—and still today most people believe they ended the Pacific War and saved millions of American and Japanese lives. In this gripping narrative, Ham demonstrates convincingly that misunderstandings and nationalist fury on both sides led to the use of the bombs. Ham also gives powerful witness to its destruction through the eyes of eighty survivors, from twelve-year-olds forced to work in war factories to wives and children who faced the holocaust alone.Hiroshima Nagasaki presents the grisly unadorned truth about the bombings, blurred for so long by postwar propaganda, and transforms our understanding of one of the defining events of the twentieth century.