Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb

Thomas B. Allen, Author, Norman Polmar, With Simon & Schuster $24.5 (351p) ISBN 978-0-684-80406-4
Historians have challenged President Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, claiming that the war with Japan could have been ended by negotiations. Allen and Polmar (Rickover: Controversy and Genius) counter that the Japanese were not ready to surrender until after the second bomb was dropped. Accordingly, massive Allied landings on Japan's home islands thus remained a probability until very late in the war. The secret plan for this invasion, along with the Japanese plan for opposing it, are presented here for the first time. Experts predicted that the Americans would suffer at least half a million casualties, while critics have suggested that this figure was inflated to justify dropping the bomb. The authors have uncovered evidence to support the prediction: for example, the requisition of 370,000 Purple Heart medals by the Quartermaster Corps, indicating the number of wounded expected; 130,000 killed in action would fit the average war dead/wounded ratio, for a total of about 500,000 casualties. Finally, Allen and Polmar convincingly argue that Truman actively sought ways to end the conflict at the lowest cost of American and Japanese lives. This is a convincing case to settle a long-running controversy. History Book Club alternate. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/1995
Release date: 07/01/1995
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