Military history

Hiroshima: The World's Bomb

Hiroshima: The World's Bomb

The US decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima remains one of the most controversial events of the twentieth century. But as this fascinating new history shows, the bomb dropped by an American pilot that hot August morning was in many ways the world's bomb, in both a technological and a moral sense. And it was the world that would have to face its consequences, strategically, diplomatically, and culturally, in the years ahead. In this fast-paced and insightful narrative, Andrew J. Rotter tells the international story behind the development of the atom bomb, ranging from the global crises that led to the Second World War to the largely unavailing attempts to control the spread of nuclear weapons and the evolution of the nuclear arms race after the war had ended. He details the growth in the 1930s and '40s of a world-wide community of scientists dedicated to developing a weapon that could undo the evil in Nazi Germany, and he describes the harnessing of their efforts by the US wartime government. Rotter also sheds light on the political and strategic decisions that led to the bombing itself, the impact of the bomb on Hiroshima and the endgame of the Pacific War, the effects of the bombing and the bomb on society and culture, and the state of all things nuclear in the early 21st-century world.

Introduction: The World’s Bomb

Part One: The World’s Atom

Chapter 1: Dissecting the atom

Chapter 2: The republic of science

Chapter 3: The republic threatened: the advent of poisonous gas

Chapter 4: The ethics of battlefield gas

Chapter 5: Scientists and states: the Soviet Union and the United States

Chapter 6: The ethical obligations of scientists

Part Two: Great Britain: Refugees, Air Power, and the Possibility of the Bomb

Chapter 1: Hitler’s gifts, Britain’s scientists

Chapter 2: The advent of air power

Chapter 3: War again, and the new doctrine of air bombardment

Chapter 4: The discovery of nuclear fission, and the bomb reimagined

Part Three: Japan and Germany: Paths not Taken

Chapter 1: Finding uranium

Chapter 2: The Germans advance

Chapter 3: Japan’s nuclear projects

Chapter 4: Germany’s nuclear projects

Chapter 5: The Americans and British move forward

Part Four: The United States I: Imagining and Building the Bomb

Chapter 1: The MAUD Committee and the Americans

Chapter 2: The Americans get serious

Chapter 3: To war

Chapter 4: Resolving to build and use the bomb

Chapter 5: Oppie

Chapter 6: Groves

Chapter 7: Centralizing the project

Chapter 8: Fissions: uranium and plutonium

Chapter 9: Life and work on ‘The Hill’

Chapter 10: A different sort of weapon

Part Five: The United States II: Using the Bomb

Chapter 1: The progress of the war against Germany

Chapter 2: The allies and the strategic bombing of Germany

Chapter 3: The war in the Pacific

Chapter 4: The bombing of Japan

Chapter 5: The firebombings and the atomic bombs

Chapter 6: Doubters

Chapter 7: The dismissal of doubt

Chapter 8: To Alamogordo, July 1945

Chapter 9: Truman at Potsdam

Chapter 10: Why the bombs were dropped

Chapter 11: Alternatives to the atomic bombs, and moral objections to attacking civilians

Chapter 12: The threshold of horror: Poison gas

Part Six: Japan: The Atomic Bombs and War’s End

Chapter 1: Japan in retreat

Chapter 2: Preparing to fight the invaders

Chapter 3: Preparing to drop Little Boy

Chapter 4: Mission No. 13

Chapter 5: The bombed city

Chapter 6: The bombed people

Chapter 7: Patterns of response

Chapter 8: The shock waves from the bomb

Chapter 9: Soviet entry and the bombing of Nagasaki

Chapter 10: The Big Six debates

Chapter 11: Explaining Japan’s surrender

Chapter 12: Assessing the damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Chapter 13: ‘Nothing, Nothing’: Memories of Hiroshima

Part Seven: The Soviet Union: The Bomb and the Cold War

Chapter 1: The American response

Chapter 2: The early Soviet nuclear program

Chapter 3: The Soviets’ atomic spies

Chapter 4: Stalin decides to build the bomb

Chapter 5: The bomb and the onset of the Cold War

Chapter 6: Call/response: Developing the ‘super’

Chapter 7: The arms race and nuclear diversity

Chapter 8: The limits of atomic weapons: The Cuban missile crisis

Part Eight: The World’s Bomb

Chapter 1: Great Britain

Chapter 2: The French atomic bomb

Chapter 3: Israel: Security and status

Chapter 4: South Africa: To the nuclear brink and back

Chapter 5: China: The people’s bomb

Chapter 6: India: Status, religion, and masculinity

Chapter 7: The critics of nuclear weapons

Epilogue: Nightmares and Hopes

Notes