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Japan 1945: From Operation Downfall to Hiroshima and Nagasaki

ISBN: 978 1 84603 284 4
Review Date:

When I first picked up this book, I expected it to be typical of the other Osprey books I have read; compact, authoritative, and well-illustrated. I quickly found that it was all of that and a lot, lot more. Unfortunately, the compactness of this book is also the source of what I found to be the its principal drawback.

To get all of the in-depth text into Osprey's usual 100-page limit, the size of the type was reduced to nearly an unreadable level. Additionally, illustrator John White created several extremely well-done charts and diagrams that had the details of their center sections lost in the crease of the book. A few fold-out pages may have shown these illustrations a little better. Even with these publishing issues, reading this book was very worthwhile.

Despite the book's title, the content stretched beyond just Japan in just 1945. The discussion of military planning and political decision making dealt more with the US than for Japan and the timeline largely covered the war's last 12 months beginning in late 1944, which put the later events in better context. Dr. Chun not only discusses the US plans for the defeat of Japan, but also the decision making criteria behind the plans and the concerns of the decision-makers. The material is obviously well-researched, including quotes from leaders' personal diaries.

From the fire-bombing of Japanese cities to the use of the atomic bombs, Dr. Chun acknowledged the aguish of those who planned and ordered he attacks, but did not digress into the moral debate himself. Questions surrounding President Truman's decision to launch atomic weapons persist to this day; Japan 1945 should be an essential piece of reference material for anyone wishing to weigh those questions within their proper historical and political contexts.

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