Countdown 1945

ISBN: 978-1982143343
Review Date:

Full Title: Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World

Countdown 1945 counts down the 116 days from when Harry Truman became President of the United States to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The book chronicles Truman's massive learning curve with respect to the highly secret nuclear program and his ultimate anguish over how to use, or whether to use, the new weapon. Story lines of several other people are woven into the book as well, starting off with their frayed and disconnected ends and then following each as they weaved together into a common thread. The book is largely an historical narrative but adeptly scratches deeper at every turn to expose the emotional motivations behind the actions that were to become the events of history.

The authors are veteran journalists with (so far) one Pulitzer Prize between them. Chris Wallace is a second-generation television political analyst with a demonstrated talent for deeply probing his subject matter. Mitch Weiss is an investigative journalist with the Associated Press who has authored or co-authored several books telling the stories behind the stories of selected wartime events. The writing style in Countdown 1945 was brisk and engaging. One dust-jacket reviewer described it as reading like "a fast-paced spy thriller." I found the book easy to read and hard to put down (something I say about very few books). As a view into history, particularly with my interest in World War II history, I found Countdown 1945 very informative and engaging.

Given the subject matter, the haunting question of "Should Truman have dropped the bomb?" was center-stage throughout. Rather than writing an editorial with their own views on the question (weighty as it is), Wallace and Weiss brought out the feelings that moved the people in the narrative. Those opinions ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other but each was presented impartially for that person and with more than ample support. Even those who waivered over time from one point of view to the opposite were represented fairly by these authors.

I am glad that I picked up Countdown 1945 and it will hold a proud spot on my World War II bookshelf. I would quickly recommend this book to anyone.

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More on Countdown 1945
Related People:
» Attlee, Clement
» Churchill, Winston
» Groves, Leslie
» Laurence, William
» Robert Oppenheimer
» Stalin, Joseph
» Stimson, Henry
» Tibbets, Paul
» Truman, Harry

Related Events:
» Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
» Japan's Surrender
» Operation Trinity and Manhattan Project
» Potsdam Conference

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