The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth

Front Cover
Knopf, 1995 - History - 847 pages
0 Reviews
One of the most controversial issues absorbing America today: Was it necessary to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Fifty years after the fateful summer of 1945, we are still debating Harry Truman's decision. Now, in an exhaustive, thoroughly documented study of the events of that time, Gar Alperovitz makes plain why the United States did not need to deploy the bomb, how Truman was advised of alternatives to it by nearly every civilian and military adviser, and how his final decision was later justified by what amounted to a deception - the claim that the action saved half a million to a million American soldiers who might otherwise have died in an invasion. Alperovitz demonstrates that Japan was close to surrender, that it was profoundly threatened by the prospect of Soviet entry into the war, and that American leaders knew the end was near. Military commanders like Eisenhower, Arnold, and Leahy saw no need to use the bomb; most of Truman's key Cabinet members urged a clarification of the position of Japan's Emperor to speed surrender. But the inexperienced president listened most intently to his incoming secretary of state, James F. Byrnes, and Byrnes was convinced the bomb would be an important diplomatic instrument in dealing with the Soviets.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

The decision to use the atomic bomb and the architecture of an American myth

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The president of the National Center for Economic Alternatives argues that against all advice President Truman was persuaded to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by incoming Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who saw the bomb as an important tool for dealing with the Soviets after the war. Read full review


General Efforts to End the War
Unconditional Surrender

62 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1995)

Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, is cofounder of The Democracy Collaborative. He is a former fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard and of King's College at Cambridge University, where he received his PhD in political economy. He has served as a legislative director in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and as a special assistant in the Department of State. Earlier he was president of the Center for Community Economic Development, Codirector of The Cambridge Institute, and president of the Center for the Study of Public Policy. Dr. Alperovitz's numerous articles have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times and The Washington Post to The Journal of Economic Issues, Foreign Policy, Diplomatic History, and other academic and popular journals. His previous books are America Beyond Capitalism (a new edition of which appeared in 2011), The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, published in 1995, the 2002 book, Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era (with Thad Williamson and David Imbroscio), and the 2008 book Unjust Deserts (with Lew Daly).

Bibliographic information