Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hiroshima: Right Then, Wrong Now

That seems to be the conclusion of noted historian Max Hastings, writing in the Guardian. Hastings examines the evidence on the side of both those who feel Hiroshima was a tragic mistake and those who think it was brutally necessary, and concludes both are right, depending on the prism that the event is viewed through.

Knowing what we do now, Hastings argues that clearly we were facing a defeated Japan that could no longer offer a viable threat; at the time, though, when faced with an enemy that preferred death to surrender (sound familiar to anyone?), and in light of the massive effort spent to win the atomic race, our decision was almost unavoidable.

In one of those ironic coincidences that happen from time to time, I had a dream last night in which I was explaining the differences between Fat Man and Little Boy (the collapsing sphere versus the uranium bullet) to some acquaintances. I did a pretty decent job of it, too...and for that, I thank what remains the greatest single account of the Manhattan Project, Richard Rhodes' brilliant The Making of the Atomic Bomb, easily one of the ten best books I have ever read on any subject. If you haven't enjoyed the pleasure yet, I suggest you do so soon...

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