Hell To Pay

BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

"Some scholars have for years--indeed, decades--picked over the bones of every decision relating to the use of nuclear weapons against Imperial Japan," D.M. Giangreco writes in HELL TO PAY--OPERATION DOWNFALL AND THE INVASION OF JAPAN, 1945-1947 (Naval Institute Press). "Every nuance of Truman's most casual asides have been examined, parsed, and psychoanalyzed as critics of the decision have tried to prove that the president lied when he stated that the atom bombs were dropped in the hope that they would induce a defeated Japan to surrender before U.S. forces--being gathered in the Pacific from as far away as the battlefields of Germany--were forced into a prolonged, bloody ground invasion."

Giangreco, a former editor of Military Review, has devoted more than twenty-five years of his life to the investigation of the political and military decisions involved in the dropping of the Hiroshimi and Nagasaki atom bombs. His well-considered and -documented conclusion is that the use of those weapons was justified. Japan's Imperial leaders were fully prepared to sacrifice twenty million of their own citizens in defense of the motherland. American casualties in a D-Day type of attack on heavily mobilized, kamikaze-minded Japan would have cost us between 250,00 and one million men during just the initial stages of the fighting.

Tapping little-known American and Japanese military records, as well as post-war interviews, Giangreco has written a persuasive and definitive defense of the 1945 nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.