As editor of Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism, Robert James Maddox directly challenges the school of "Hiroshima revisionists" who insist that the atomic bomb was dropped for motives ulterior to the ending of the war against Japan. Within the nine articles that comprise this single entry is the desire to dispel what the various authors, as well as Maddox, consider to be long-standing myths about issues surrounding the dropping of the atomic bomb. These revisionist fabrications are best described in one of the included articles by Robert Numan, and include: claims that Japan was ready to surrender in early 1945; that the United States rejected peace with Japan only because the latter wished to retains its emperor; that the numbers of suspected casualties during an invasion of Japan were created after the war; that the Soviet Union played a huge role in the Japanese decision to surrender; that the decision to drop the atomic bomb was merited by political considerations regarding the Soviets, instead of military considerations regarding the Japanese. The articles in this volume offer a prompt and utter squashing of all these assertions to which recent literature has subscribed.
Robert James Maddox is Professor Emeritus of History at Pennsylvania State University, and is the author of numerous books on the subject of the atomic bomb, including a 1995 solo entry, Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Later. The contributing authors represent a wide assortment of professors and military historians who have previous experience with various relevant subjects including American and Japanese history, the Pacific War, the atomic project, and biographical sketches of American and Japanese leaders.
The ability of the various contributing authors to sift through archival documents and personal memoirs in order to tackle the various claims cannot be overstated. One of the most glaring accusations made against the revisionist school is that their conclusions, which under a definition of revisionism should encompass some sort of originality or new revelation, are not original or revealing at all; most of the revisionists, it seems, are simply rehashing criticisms made by a particular author, Paul Nitze, in 1946. On top of that old framework, many of these authors challenge, revisionists throw on claimed evidence revealed by `new', `recently released', or `secret documents', most of which have in fact been declassified and available - by law - since the 1970s. As one example of these accusations, Maddox uses the introduction to his compendium to slam popular revisionist Gar Alperovitz for malicious misuse of these `new documents' and discredits his historiographic methodology.
Most of the articles contained within Hiroshima in History deal with specific details of the debate: a new look at the estimated military casualties for Operations Olympic and Coronet, the twin invasions of the Japanese homeland; an investigation into the details of the reports of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, which has long been a popular source for revisionists; an overview of declassified intelligence reports regarding troop movements and government communiqués in Japan, including the all-important cabinet (responsible for the decision to continue/end the war); a reassessment of Secretary of War Henry Stimson; and a reflection on the Enola Gay exhibit debacle.
While the articles vary in how they actively refute revisionists, they all add a nearly unquantifiable amount of data, sources, and thought to the discussion, and so provide the possibility to change perspectives and correct attitudes. In all honesty, no review can do sufficient justice in describing the amount of value contained within these pages; due to the dedication of the nine contributing authors of this vastly important book it may not be too much of a stretch to say that, short of an equally critical and judicious work by a member of the revisionist school, the best possible case for the decision to drop the atomic bomb might now be available.