31 Barton J Bernstein Reconsidering Invasion Most Costly Popular History

31 barton j bernstein reconsidering invasion most

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31 . Barton J. Bernstein, “Reconsidering ‘Invasion Most Costly’: Popular-History Scholar- ship, Publishing Standards, and the Claim of High U.S. Casualty Estimates to Help Legit- imize the Atomic Bombings,” Peace and Change 24 (April 1999 ): 220 48 . 32 . Alperovitz and Messer, “Correspondence: Marshall, Truman, and the Decision to Drop the Bomb,” 204 9 ; Alperovitz, Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb , pp. 648 , 661 , 662 , 665 . 33 . “Communications,” Pacific Historical Review 69 (May 2000 ): 349 55 ; Robert James Maddox, “Casualty Estimates for the Invasion of Japan: The ‘Postwar Creation’ Myth,”
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Bernstein not only questioned the foundations of both the revisionist and traditionalist interpretations but also offered his own middle-ground view of whether the use of the bomb was necessary to achieve victory at the earliest possible moment. He rejected the revisionist contention that the war could have ended as soon or even sooner than it did without dropping the bomb. He argued that none of the alternatives available to U.S. policymakers would have brought the war to a conclusion as rapidly as using the bomb. And he doubted that any of the alternatives, taken alone, would have been sufficient to force a prompt Japanese surrender. Bernstein suggested, however, that it seemed “very likely, though certainly not definite,” that a combination of alternatives would have ended the war before the invasion of Kyushu began on 1 Novem- ber 1945 . 34 In a book intended to be both a synthesis and an original contribution to the subject, J. Samuel Walker arrived at similar conclusions. In addressing the ques- tion of whether the bomb was necessary he delivered an answer of “yes . . . and no.” Yes, it was necessary to end the war at the earliest possible moment and in that way to save American lives, perhaps numbering in the several thousands. No, the use of the bomb was probably not necessary to end the war within a fairly short time before the invasion took place. And no, it was not necessary to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of American troops. Walker based his admittedly uncertain casualty estimates on the number of Army deaths in July 1945 , the only full month between the end of the battle of Okinawa and the Japanese surrender. Although there were no major battle fronts at that time, 775 soldiers were killed in action and another 2 , 458 died from causes other than combat. Extrapolating from those numbers led to the conclusion that the con- tinuation of the war for another few weeks could have exacted a price in Amer- ican lives in the range of thousands. Walker argued that saving “a relatively small but far from inconsequential number” of American lives was, in Truman’s mind, ample reason to use the bomb. The new weapon “offered the way most likely to achieve an American victory on American terms with the lowest cost in American lives.” 35 Recent Literature on Truman’s Atomic Bomb Decision : 327 Continuity 24 (Fall 2000 ): 11 29 ; Barton J. Bernstein, “Ike and Hiroshima: Did He Oppose It?” Journal of Strategic Studies 10
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