Five myths about the atomic bomb

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tags: atomic bomb



Gregg Herken is an emeritus professor of U.S. diplomatic history at the University of California and the author of “The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War” and “Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller.” As a Smithsonian curator in 1995, he participated in early planning for the National Air and Space Museum’s Enola Gay exhibit.


Related Link Hiroshima 70 years on: Was the Armageddon worth it? By J. Brooks Specter

1. The bomb ended the war.

The notion that the atomic bombs caused the Japanese surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, has been, for many Americans and virtually all U.S. history textbooks, the default understanding of how and why the war ended. But minutes of the meetings of the Japanese government reveal a more complex story. The latest and best scholarship on the surrender, based on Japanese records, concludes that the Soviet Union’s unexpected entry into the war against Japan on Aug. 8 was probably an even greater shock to Tokyo than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima two days earlier. Until then, the Japanese had been hoping that the Russians — who had previously signed a nonaggression pact with Japan — might be intermediaries in negotiating an end to the war . As historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa writes in his book “Racing the Enemy,” “Indeed, Soviet attack, not the Hiroshima bomb, convinced political leaders to end the war.” The two events together — plus the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Aug. 9 — were decisive in making the case for surrender. ...




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