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Source Analysis: Atomic Bombing of JapanAnthony LunsfordHistory 340: Making HistoryMarch 31, 2019
1Nearly 75 years ago on August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb known as “Little Boy” wasdropped from the Enola Gay on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Nearly 80,000 people were killed instantly with tens of thousands more set to die later from radiation exposure.1This was the first of two atomic bombs the United States would use on Japan within just a few days, the other being dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The legitimacy of the claim in the necessity of the use of the bombs has been a highly debated topic since the bombing took place in 1945. In this source analysis, I will compare three sources, in order to deduce the essentiality of the bombing. The first source I will be analyzing is a historiographical essay called The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update, written by Samuel J. Walker. Next, I will analyze an essay written by Gar Alperovitz, Robert L. Messer, and Barton J. Bernstein entitled, Marshall, Truman,and the Decision to Drop the Bomb. Finally, I will look at President Truman’s announcement of the atomic bombing at Hiroshima. The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was one of the deadliest incidents to have taken place in the history of humanity an it must be understood fully in order to prevent an event such as this from ever taking place again.Samuel J. Walker is a historian most notable for his research and writing on nuclear energy and weaponry. He has worked as a history professor at the University of Maryland and later with the Nuclear Regulation Commission. In his historiographical essay, The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update, Walker analyzes the works of several influential authors and how they view the decision to use the atomic bombs. The essay was written in the mid-1980’s and published by the Oxford University Press in 1990. He wrote this essay during a turbulent time in American politics. We were still in the midst of the Cold War and an anti-1 Risa Brooks and Elizabeth Stanley, Creating Military Power: The Sources of Military Effectiveness, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2007), 41-44.
2communist movement had swept the United States, as Americans feared that the rise of communism could jeopardize our freedom. Throughout this essay, Walker uses the works of these other authors to validate his belief that the atomic bombing was not necessary to end WWII. The most prevalent view at the time of the actual bombing was that the bombs eliminated