The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb

Michael Kort

Columbia University Press

The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb

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Pub Date: April 2007

ISBN: 9780231130165

456 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£48.00

Pub Date: April 2007

ISBN: 9780231527583

456 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£48.00

The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb

Michael Kort

Columbia University Press

Few aspects of American military history have been as vigorously debated as Harry Truman's decision to use atomic bombs against Japan. In this carefully crafted volume, Michael Kort describes the wartime circumstances and thinking that form the context for the decision to use these weapons, surveys the major debates related to that decision, and provides a comprehensive collection of key primary source documents that illuminate the behavior of the United States and Japan during the closing days of World War II.

Kort opens with a summary of the debate over Hiroshima as it has evolved since 1945. He then provides a historical overview of thye events in question, beginning with the decision and program to build the atomic bomb. Detailing the sequence of events leading to Japan's surrender, he revisits the decisive battles of the Pacific War and the motivations of American and Japanese leaders. Finally, Kort examines ten key issues in the discussion of Hiroshima and guides readers to relevant primary source documents, scholarly books, and articles.

This splendid volume provides both a comprehensive selection of documents and the author's own incisive analyses of various controversial issues. If I had to recommend just one book on the subject, this would be it.

Robert Maddox, author of Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision

With fully 250 pages of well-chosen documents filling its second half, it would have been easy for a book like this to be a challenge to work with. But the cross-referencing between text and document is crafted with such care and precision that the final product is remarkably easy to navigate.

D. M. Giangreco, Moncado Prize-winning author of "Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasion of Japan, 1945-1946: Planning and Policy Implications"

For the scholar, the student, or the interested citizen this work towers above the rest as a superb and even-handed summary of the searing controversy over the end of the Pacific War. But what transforms this into an instant and indispensable classic is the judicious and comprehensive set of original documents. They remove the blinkers of rival interpretations and offer a unique opportunity for a firsthand probe of the realities of 1945.

Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

A rich resource to the complex and often profoundly controversial questions surrounding the bomb of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Reference & Research Book News

Lucid and careful summaries of the issues...[a] substantial and well-chosen collection of documents from American and Japanese sources

Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs

Not only comprehensive but so engaging... This is a book for every library.

Joe P. Dunn, American Reference Books Annual

An indispensable book.

Robert James Maddox, Journal of Cold War Studies


Philip Nash, H-Diplo

By giving the nuclear debate life before the Cold War, Kort revitalizes it for a new complex era. The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb makes a valuable contribution.

Jay Larson, Peace and Change
Part I. Historical Narrative
1. The Debate Over Hiroshima
2. Building the Atomic Bomb
3. The Pacific War
4. The Decision to Drop the Bomb
5. The Japanese Government, Ketsu-Go, and Potsdam
6. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Japan's Surrender
7. Hiroshima and American Power
Part II. Key Questions and Interpretations
Part III. Resources
Glossary of Military Terms and Abbreviations
Glossary of Names
Selected Bibliography
Part IV. Documents
Guide to the Documents
A. American Civilian Documents
B. American Military Documents
C. MAGIC Diplomatic Summaries
D. Japanese Government Documents, Military Documents, and Diary Entries
E. Japanese Surrender Documents
F. United States Strategic Bombing Survey: Summary Report and Interrogations of Japanese Officials
G. Statements of Japanese Officials on World War II, Military Intelligence Section, Historical Division, U.S. Army

About the Author

Michael Kort is a professor of social science at Boston University's College of General Studies. He is the author of several books on the Soviet Union and Cold War history including The Handbook of the Former Soviet Union; The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath; and The Cold War.