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Japan 1945: From Operation Downfall to Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Campaign) Paperback – 10 Oct 2008


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"From the fire-bombing of Japanese cities to the use of the atomic bombs, Dr. Chun acknowledged the aguish of those who planned and ordered he attacks, but did not digress into the moral debate himself. Questions surrounding President Truman's decision to launch atomic weapons persist to this day; Japan 1945 should be an essential piece of reference material for anyone wishing to weigh those questions within their proper historical and political contexts." - C. Peter Chen, "World War 2 Database / ww2db.com "(January 2010) "Author Zaloga along with some superb photographs and the illustrations of Ian Palmer, tells the story of these vehicles from their earliest inception to the current range of vehicles to those being developed for the future. A story that has really just begun and is as fascinating today as it was when first developed. A book I know you will find interesting and informative. Highly recommended along with all of Osprey's titles in this series." -Scott Van Aken, "Modelling Madness" (October 2008) "In short, this is an excellent analysis of the decisions and operations leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." -Jeff Grim, "Collected Miscellany" (January 2009)

About the Author

Clayton K.S. Chun, Ph.D., is on the U.S. Army War College faculty at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania where he teaches courses on national security, strategy, and economics. He completed a military career in the U.S. Air Force and has published in the fields of national security, military history, and economics.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Too little space for too great a topic 18 Dec 2008
By Graves - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Osprey's 200th volume in their "Campaign" series is Clayton Chun's, "Japan 1945: From Operation Downfall to Hiroshima and Nagasaki." Unfortunately "Downfall" the code name for the planned invasion of Japan is all too appropriate a title for this work. Limited by Osprey's 90 page count this attempts a far too ambitious scope for such limited page count.

Beyond the purely military actions there are social and political elements on both side of the conflict that the book barely touches upon. For example Chun comments that Hiroshima authorities were able to provide some services almost immediately after the nuclear blast, but he doesn't say what those were.

The editing and fact checking in the book seems suspect at best. For example when discussing the "Potsdam Conference" where the allies set down their strategy for dealing with Japan, he says Churchill had advocated a degree of leniency. But at Potsdam Churchill was replaced as Prime Minister by Clement Atlee, and his views on the Japan, or even his existence are not mentioned by the book.

Some stuff is just odd. On page 55 a picture of the Little Boy weapon has the caption that "Its detonation would be the second man made nuclear explosion." This could imply there were other, non-man made, nuclear explosions.

The secondary title, From Operation Downfall to...Nagasaki" is not even correct as the book goes on to detail the Japanese surrender which came about after Nagasaki. The volume's cover should be a clue as it is the USS Missouri in Tokyo harbor.

The book pretty much limits itself to a straight on recounting of the military facts that led to the use of nuclear weapons and the events when `The bomb' was dropped. For a quick walk through of those facts this is a good, quick source book, but considering the fact there are volumes written about this event with its different aspects and Chun himself gives a brief recounting of how "The Bomb" changed the world if leave much dangling. The book mentions that some were opposed to the use of nuclear weapons without really going into detail of why and the climatic struggles within the Japanese government are barely touched on.

In part this is the limitations of Osprey's size requirements but it does seem to be an overly ambitious theme for such a thin work. While ok for the military elements of the nuclear attacks on Japan, for the rest, this seems to be inadequate to the struggle of detailing what was not just an air raid but the painful birth of the modern world.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An Unsatisfactory Snapshot of Imperial Japan's Final Weeks 25 Oct 2008
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Up front, it is clear that Japan 1945: From Operation Downfall to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, number 200 in Osprey's Campaign series, has a problem with perspective. It is supposed to be about the final months of the Pacific War and the events that led to the Japanese surrender, but this narrative is told almost entirely through the parochial lens of U.S. airpower. I was particularly annoyed that the role of U.S. submarines in crippling the Japanese economy is reduced to a couple of photo captions and the author's decision to ignore the U.S. Navy's contributions is evident in the bibliography, which does not list either Clay Blair's excellent Silent Victory or any volumes by Samuel Eliott Morrison. Most modern accounts about the final months of the Pacific War go through the debate about whether the atomic bombing was really necessary or whether blockade was sufficient, but this author glides past that debate at high speed and settles on his chosen course. Strangely, the Japanese are also rather absent from large chunks of this account and although the reader gets to see quite a few photos of Colonel Paul Tibbets and Enola Gay, we see only two photos of injured Japanese civilians. It is as if the author wanted to lionize the B-29 crews and present an anti-septic version of events. This volume is really just about the atomic raids - the short section on Operations Olympic and Coronet is little more than a strawman that the author can knock down, so that he can show that nuclear attack was the only feasible option. Aside from this over-focus on the role of airpower, that author made little effort to even mention other con-current U.S. or Allied operations that were ongoing during these final months and how this put further pressure on Japan's leadership (for example, U.S. battleships bombarding targets directly in Japan). Overall, if you want to understand how the Allies brought about Japan's surrender, this is not the place to start.

The volume begins with a brief introduction that outlines the general state of the Pacific War in early 1945 and the U.S. efforts to develop atomic weapons. At no point does the author bother to discuss Japanese motivations and the role of Bushido in creating a fanatical resistance (he does refer to heavy U.S. casualties on Iwo Jima and Okinawa and the role of Kamikazes, but doesn't really get into identifying the enemy center of gravity). Readers should note that the author did not use any Japanese sources, which renders this into the kind of parochial military historiography we used to see in the 1950s. The author then moves into a weird, high-level opposing leader section that wanders all over the place from Eisenhower (not even in the Pacific), to Truman, most of the joint chiefs, Nimitz, Groves, Tibbets and then Hirohito and his top military advisors. Normally, this section is used to discuss how leadership affected the campaign, but here it is just part of the evolving `where and when shall we use the bomb' discussion. Particularly after Max Hastings' recent scathing critique of General Douglas Macarthur's poor performance in the reconquest of the Philippines, it would have been worth it to ask whether or not he was up to commanding the greatest amphibious invasions in history.

Amazingly, there is no section on opposing forces as there is in virtually all other volumes of this series. To say that he is focused on the atomic raids, he does not even bother outlining what kind of fighter interceptor or ground radar defenses the Japanese had around the primary targets. Nor is there any order of battle for either side - which would have been useful for the discussion of Operation Olympic. The 13-page section on Opposing plans has only two paragraphs on Japanese options, but then spends the rest on the Allied strategy for victory. Blockade and bombardment are addressed but quickly and without conviction. The author moves quickly into the March 1945 firebombing raid (shouldn't this be in the campaign narrative section?), which he uses as a precursor to the atomic raids. The volume has six 2-D maps (the Pacific theater, February 1945; the 9/10 March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo; planned Operation Olympic invasion sites on Kyushu; planned Operation Coronet invasion sites on Honshu; the path of the Enola Gay to Hiroshima; the flight of Bockscar to Nagasaki) and two 3-D BEV maps (Hiroshima, 6 August 1945; Nagasaki, 9 August 1945). In both cases, the BEVs are zoomed out so much that the map gridlines are 2 miles apart, meaning that the maps show virtually no detail of the actual targets. Most readers would be more interested to know the extent of damage in each city, rather than what route the B-29s flew after dropping their bombs. The three battlescenes by John White (the Tokyo firebombing Raid; the Enola Gay dropping Little Boy; Bockscar dropping Fat Man) all depict B-29s, which emphasizes the myopic perspective of this volume.

On the plus side, the authors' description of the atomic raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is gripping, but told strictly from the American point of view. Furthermore, there is ground that has been covered extensively in other sources and I found it difficult to identify any fresh material. Instead of discussing the actual American occupation of Japan, the author skips it to offer a windy diversion on the `future of warfare' that the atomic raids supposedly brought about (although in fact, the future belonged to limited wars). The final section on the `sites today' deals almost exclusively with U.S. sites and only gets to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the last paragraph. Overall, this volume fails to present a balanced account of Imperial Japan's final months.
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