Why Truman Dropped the Bomb

In 1945, an overwhelming majority of Americans regarded as a matter of course that the United States had used atomic bombs to end the Pacific war…. The critics divide over what prompted the decision to drop the bombs in spite of the impending surrender, with the most provocative arguments focusing on Washington’s desire to intimidate the Kremlin. Among an important stratum of American society–and still more perhaps abroad–the critics’ interpretation displaced the traditionalist view.

These rival narratives clashed in a major battle over the exhibition of the Enola Gay, the airplane from which the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, at the Smithsonian Institution in 1995. That confrontation froze many people’s understanding of the competing views. Since then, however, a sheaf of new archival discoveries and publications has expanded our understanding of the events of August 1945. This new evidence requires serious revision of the terms of the debate. —Richard B. FrankWhy Truman Dropped the Bomb (The Weekly Standard)

The 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima approaches.