HISTORY

Unconditional: The Japanese Surrender in World War II

Oxford Univ. Aug. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780190091101. $27.95. HIST
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In 1995, the Smithsonian opened an exhibit featuring the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The exhibit stoked controversy, as from its inception, the entire idea of unconditional surrender—a concept to which the decision to drop the atomic bomb was related—caused disagreement. Gallicchio (history, Villanova Univ., PA) examines the ideologies behind the premise of requiring Japan’s unconditional surrender and its relation to Soviet entry into the war against Japan. The author does well in covering the differing points of view of various United States government officials, along with the competing factions in the Japanese leadership. He explains the arguments against using atomic bombs against Japan and the alternative approaches, including an invasion of the mainland. Gallicchio argues that forcing Japan’s unconditional surrender was crucial to creating a more democratic and less stratified postwar society.
VERDICT A scholarly work, this will appeal most to researchers and informed readers interested in the diplomatic history of World War II.

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