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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world.' (Harry S. Truman 25 July 1945)
In an interview, Paul Ham said that it took him four years to write this book: 2.5 years of research and 1.5 years to write and edit. He said that he chose this topic because `I have always felt that there is something wrong with American narratives that attempt to justify the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a nuclear holocaust.' After...
Published on 2 Feb 2012 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstanding War
First a comment about the earlier C Smith review. Harris did NOT order the area bombing of cities like Hamburg and Dresden,Winston Churchill did! It is time this myth was banished.
Paul Ham's book tills much old ground. His familiar material includes the evolution of bombing that has been told, often wrongly, many, many times. His account of the development of the...
Published 24 months ago by Dr Barry Clayton


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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world.' (Harry S. Truman 25 July 1945), 2 Feb 2012
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki. (Hardcover)
In an interview, Paul Ham said that it took him four years to write this book: 2.5 years of research and 1.5 years to write and edit. He said that he chose this topic because `I have always felt that there is something wrong with American narratives that attempt to justify the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a nuclear holocaust.' After researching and analysing the core archives, Paul Ham said he `felt a strong impulse to write an accurate account of the bomb, and to dissect the truth from the lies and popular myths.'

The lead up to August 1945, and the aftermath, is covered from a number of different angles: historical and political as well as military and scientific. Aspects of the book are based on extensive interviews with eighty survivors and depict the human communities of the two cities before and after they were destroyed. So much of the damage was civilian: schools, hospitals, and the homes of so many - primarily women, children and the aged.

`It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.'
Paul Ham writes that the orthodox view of why the atomic bombs were dropped is President Harry S Truman's justification (enunciated two years after the decision was made) that the bombs saved the necessity of invading Japan and the loss of one million American servicemen. Ham scrutinises this ex post facto justification: pointing out that the atomic bombs were not the only option and, in any case, Japan was rapidly running out of the raw materials required in order to continue.

General Curtis LeMay, like the RAF's Air Vice Marshall `Bomber' Harris (who ordered the area bombing of Hamburg and Dresden) believed that Japan's military leaders could be shamed into surrender if their cities and civilian population were blanket bombed. The dropping of Little Boy and Fat Man was an extension of that strategy and while these bombs killed thousands of civilians, it apparently had little impact on the Japanese war machine or those directing it. Or did it? Surely it's not total coincidence that Japan surrendered just days after Nagasaki was bombed.

In Ham's view, what really led to the Japanese surrender was Stalin's sudden entry into the war in the Pacific. The Japanese generals could see one million Soviet troops pouring into Manchuria, ready to invade Japan and to avenge the Russian defeat of 1904-05.

`The Japanese people had kept their Emperor and lost an empire.'

Having read the book, having had some of my views and assumptions challenged, I'm still forming my own conclusions - especially on the role of science and the responsibility of scientists. Revisiting the choices made in 1945 is important: can we apply learning from the past to an unknown future?

`Total war had debased everyone involved.' As it does, and will continue to do.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 7 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Hardcover)
If you are even remotely interested in this subject I can not recommend this book enough.
Interesting chapters regarding the firebombing of other cities, the ascendency of Truman and the history of the development of the atomic bomb.
Very readable and a real page turner.
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstanding War, 28 July 2012
By 
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Hardcover)
First a comment about the earlier C Smith review. Harris did NOT order the area bombing of cities like Hamburg and Dresden,Winston Churchill did! It is time this myth was banished.
Paul Ham's book tills much old ground. His familiar material includes the evolution of bombing that has been told, often wrongly, many, many times. His account of the development of the nuclear bomb is poor, potted, inaccurate in places and tiresome.Likewise, his account of the use of propaganda by Japan and the Allies is old-hat.
Readers who are not familiar with the mountains of research on the decision to attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki should treat this book with caution. The author is clearly one who knows little of the actualities of war or warfare. He has little understanding of the context in which decisions like Hiroshima were made.The context is crucial. In 1945 Europe was in ruins and chaos. We were revolted by the the horror of Hitler's death camps. There was growing fear for the safety of thousands of Allied prisoners in Japanese hands. The world was beginning to learn that the behaviour of the Japanese military was depraved and bestial.
The direction of war is not for the squeamish. Little objection had been raised to the killing of some 750,000 German and Japanese civilians by conventional bombing. Those who know little of battle, like the author, are deluded to imagine that death by nuclear weapons is uniquely awful. Artillery, flame throwers, mines also do terrible things to the human frame.Nuclear weapons are horrific but even given their residual consequences they are only one means of inflicting misery and death.
Despite what Ham says the evidence makes clear that using the bomb made a very bloody invasion of Japan redundant.Such an invasion would have faced a well-prepared enemy that include thousands of fanatical civilians armed with weapons who had made it clear that they would willingly die defending their country. Remember that by 1945 the Americans had already fought some of the bloodiest battles of the war against a fanatical enemy entrenched on heavily fortified Pacific Islands. They had no illusions about what faced them if they invaded the Japanese homeland.The evidence is overwhelming that by 1945 the American people would not have accepted the horrendous cost of invasion.The intercept of Magic codes made it clear that the Japanese were willing to commit mass suicide if invasion took place.
Ham like so many people fails to understand that with hindsight what is very apparent today was in 1945 opaque.
Ham is bothered that no warning was given before the bombs were dropped.The reasons are quite clear.The bomb was intended to be a mighty shock not only to Japan but also to the Soviet Union (the latter is usually forgotten). Incidentally, did Japan warn the USA of its intention to attack Pearl Harbour?
The responsibility for Hiroshima and Nagasaki lies wholly with the Japanese. They decided to fight on despite knowing they had lost the war. Regarding
casualty figures for Hiroshima we should remember that these are estimates. The current one is around 70,000 not 100,000.
Those who belong to the Ham school should also remember the thousands of Allied prisoners in squalid Japanese prisons where they were routinely starved, beaten, or beheaded for minor offences.The Japanese had announced that they would massacre these prisoners if Japan was invaded.
Finally, it it wrong to believe that blockade and the cynical invasion of Manchuria by Stalin's forces brought the war to an end.Neither had broken the political stalemate in Japan.Military and political Japanese leaders cared nothing for the welfare of their people.Note that even after Hirohito declared that his leaders should end the war and accept the US State Department's note regarding peace terms a military coup was attempted.
A sober and objective study of the evidence available in several languages makes it clear that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified given the circumstances at the time.Ham writes:'total war debased everyone involved'. Indeed,war is hell. It demonstrates the worst aspects of human behaviour. It is, however, incumbent upon writers to view wars in context and avoid the use of armchair hindsight.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent factual read, 12 Jun 2014
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Excellent history lesson. Giving us an insight into the true culmination of events leading up to this horrific tragedy. A good read for those studying ww2
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 1 Mar 2014
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T.R.SULLIVAN (OXSHOTT, SURREY United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Paperback)
I have read many hypotheses as to why one bomb was ever necessary, never mind 2. It does seem to be the case that Truman's public reasoning (to save further American troop bloodshed) does not stand the test of time. Russia was already knocking at Japan's door and in any case they had no resources left. Japan was by then no threat to anyone. It seems that Truman's curiosity got the better of him, and he appears never to have regretted it, despite overwhelmingly awful evidence of the human suffering he engendered- at his sole hand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, 26 Jan 2014
By 
Derek I. Robinson "derek21" (Ipswich, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Hardcover)
To see the evolution of the politics, for me, is the most interesting thing.Then of course contemplate the hundreds of thousands instantly vaporised while going about their business.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of history, 10 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book it has in depth detail, and I would strongly recommend this book for either world war 2 buffs or none world war 2 buffs it is a great read .
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book, 3 Mar 2013
This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Hardcover)
This was excellent. Absolutely perfect for hours. Would highly recommend to anyone. Well written and perfect description - best book I have read.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read, 30 May 2013
By 
L. J. Mcguire (Doncaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Hardcover)
As a student of Japanese at university, I found this book enthralling and very much in line with what was being taught by the lecturers. This is not simply a book about the explosions; it paints a vivid picture of the context in which this all happened, introducing some fascinating characters along the way. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

I would advise prospective buyers not to take much notice of the negative reviews. I see that at least two reviewers have argued that because Japan didn't warn the USA of their surprise attack on Pearl Harbour, the USA was thus under no obligation to warn the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is stupid. If your enemy does it, you can do the same? Of course not. You wouldn't apply this logic to death camps and slave labour. We hold our moral standards regardless of the depravity of our adversaries. That's kind of the point. Some of the other comments by the same reviewers leave me to wonder whether they actually read the book. If they did, they certainly didn't understand it.

The author also makes it crystal clear that the Japanese regime at the time was brutal and barbarous. He makes clear that the casualties from conventional bombing were greater than the casualties from the atomic bombs. This book is not nearly as one-sided as its critics have portrayed it. It is a brilliant account and well worth the effort.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sobering reading, 26 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Hiroshima Nagasaki (Paperback)
A relatively long book at around 700 pages although the last 20% or so is made up of notes and appendices. This is a comprehensive look at the subject matter of the development and eventual use of the bomb. For me, the book does tend to drag a little at times and repeat itself through back tracking, but this is a minor criticism really. For anyone wishing to learn more about the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this is probably as good a place to start as any. The subsequent nuclear arms race and the cold war is also dealt with here. As is often the case, there are conflicting opinions about for example whether it was really necessary to use the bombs to end the war. Some, including Paul Ham maintain that their use was not necessary, others disagree. I guess we will never know for sure. But if they had not been used in Japan, who knows where they would have been used instead and to what extent!
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Hiroshima Nagasaki
Hiroshima Nagasaki by Paul Ham (Paperback - 18 July 2013)
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