Seventy-five years ago, the United States ended World War II by dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, wreaking havoc and destruction like nothing ever before seen. The bombs killed perhaps 200,000 civilians and radiation sickness harmed thousands more, ushering in the Atomic Age and hastening the start of the Cold War.
The anniversary has already brought new books that recount the events or re-frame the narrative:
“The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War,” by Fred Kaplan; “Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the 116 Days That Changed the World,” by Chris Wallace and Mitch Weiss; “140 Days to Hiroshima: The Story of Japan’s Last Chance to Avert Armageddon,” by David Dean Barrett; “On The Horizon,” a children’s book by Lois Lowry.
Greg Mitchell, author of “The Beginning Or the End: How Hollywood—and America—Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (Courtesy of The New Press)
Now two books take unique angles to go behind the scenes in exploring what happened — from the impact of Russia’s planned invasion of Japan to the Japanese government’s actual readiness to surrender — and how and why the United States government worked so hard to cover up the truth.
What follows are two interviews with authors who have written new books about these events: Lesley M.M. Blume’s “Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-Up and the Reporter Who Revealed it to the World” and Greg Mitchell’s “The Beginning or The End.” Each spoke about their books and the events of 1945 are still timely today; the interviews have been edited for space and clarity.
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Lesley M.M. Blume had written the book “Everybody Behaves Badly” about Ernest Hemingway and was looking for a newsroom story — her father was a TV journalist and she started her career at ABC News.
“I have been enormously disturbed for the last four or five years by the unprecedented assault on our free press and the designation of journalists as ‘enemies of the people,’” she said.
She was searching for a historical narrative tied to World War II when her husband suggested she look into how Hiroshima and Nagasaki were covered in the immediate aftermath. That idea bloomed into “Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-Up and the Reporter Who Revealed it to the World,” a behind-the-scenes look at what it took for John Hersey, author of “Hiroshima,” and his editors at the New Yorker to tell the true story of what really happened when America dropped its atomic bombs.
Were you surprised by the extent of the government’s effort to keep journalists away and cover up the devastation caused by the bombs and by the radiation afterward?
I was stunned by the extent of it. By covering the journalists, I saw the suppression, corralling, bullying and the expulsion of journalists. I saw the mechanisms of the cover-up and how all the minutiae was controlled because of how the U.S. wanted to keep a lid on this atrocity story.
Did your research change your views on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
There’s still a predominant narrative in …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News