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Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima (英語) ペーパーバック – 2006/5/9
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A riveting, minute-by-minute account of the momentous event that changed our world forever
On a quiet Monday morning in August 1945, a five-ton bomb—dubbed Little Boy by its creators—was dropped from an American plane onto the Japanese city of Hiroshima. On that day, a firestorm of previously unimagined power was unleashed on a vibrant metropolis of 300,000 people, leaving one third of its population dead, its buildings and landmarks incinerated. It was the terrifying dawn of the Atomic Age, spawning decades of paranoia, mistrust, and a widespread and very real fear of the potential annihilation of the human race.
Author Stephen Walker brilliantly re-creates the three terrible weeks leading up to the wartime detonation of the atomic bomb—from the first successful test in the New Mexico desert to the cataclysm and its aftermath—presenting the story through the eyes of pilots, scientists, civilian victims, and world leaders who stood at the center of earth-shattering drama. It is a startling, moving, frightening, and remarkable portrait of an extraordinary event—a shockwave whose repercussions can be felt to this very day.
“Dramatic ... an important page-turner ... admirably evenhanded and smoothly written.” (Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A-))
“A meticulous, emotionally devastating portrait of both sides … [Walker] creates an arresting feeling of suspense.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
“Like John Hersey’s HIROSHIMA, SHOCKWAVE brings to life one of history’s most profound events. Don’t miss it.” (Arizona Republic)
“Electrifying . . .The tension and concentration of Walker’s thriller-like prose elicits a visceral response.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Gripping...takes us back to 1945, allowing readers to appreciate the spectacular scientific effort that created this tool of doom.” (Raleigh News & Observer)
“Shockwave is a stunning book, among the most immediate and thrilling works of history I have ever read.” (Irish Times)
“Uniquely readable, immediate, and human . . . an exceptionally taut and revealing chronicle.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Walker takes readers on a roller-coaster ride ... invite[s] comparison with John Hersey’s still-classic Hiroshima.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Superb. . . . Walker writes with a sense of urgency and high drama . . . engrossing [and] saddening.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Highly recommended … [Walker] lends a rapid pace and cinematic air to the narrative.” (Library Journal)
narrative of events that took place during the bombing mission over Hiroshima. It begins with a description of the formation of the Manhattan Project
and the extreme confidentiality that surrounded this mission. The mission was so top secret that the wives of the scientists were never told what was
going on.Selecting the crew for the B-29 bombing mission was highly selective. Colonel Paul Tibbetts was regarded as the top pilot of all the aviators in the U.S. military. But he had to pass a test of honesty in order to be offered the job as the first pilot to drop an atomic bomb on the enemy. He had to confess that he had been arrested for a fling with one of the females at his training base. Once he did that, he was named the
pilot for the mission.
Training for this mission took place on the island of Tinian, a stategically located island which featured three lengthy runways, each one being a mile
and a half in length. The crew was treated like royalty and received the best of everything , including the best steaks and the best living quarters.
Meanwhile the training continued with countless bombing runs testing the new B-29's which were specially made for such missions....they could fly
at an altitude of 30,000 feet, they had hyraulic bomb bays, and pressurized compartments for the crew. They could also carry the weight of a bomb
weighing 9,000 pounds!
But the extreme torque produced in the engines at takeoff could cause fires to break out and explode the aircraft....this would've been catastrophic
with an atom bomb on board. For this mission, the B-29 had to be stripped of everything except the fuel tanks and the enormous bomb....only one
tailgunner was allowed to defend the aircraft from attack.
After the atomic bomb had been tested in the desert and was successful, President Truman was ready to issue a formal demand for an unconditional surrender by the Japanese. But when they chose to" reply with silence", Truman gave the order to drop the bomb. After much fanfare,
numerous pictures taken under floodlights, and a quick coat of paint spelling Enola Gay(the pilot's mother) on the nose of the plane, the crew was
ready for takeoff on their historic mission.....destination....the Empire.
The trip would be fraught with danger. From the start, Colonel Tibbetts would need every inch of the mile and a half runway to launch the Enola Gay
off the ground. While in flight, the atom bomb needed to be "armed" or it wouldn't detonate. This task demanded electronic wizardry at the highest
level, and one of the scientists on the crew commanded that special accumen. Once the aircraft arrived over Hiroshima, the crew encountered heavy cloud cover, which forced them to circle until they had a perfect visual view of the target. The blast was so powerful that the entire aircraft and
crew could've easily been destroyed except for the mastery of the pilot, Colonel Tibbetts.
After the bombing, President Truman expected a swift and unconditional surrender from the Japanese. Instead, they stalled for more time hoping
that Russia could broker a more generous surrender which would allow them to keep their Emporer.When the deadline for that lapsed, Truman
ordered a second atomic bomb to be dropped, promising a "rain of ruin". The intended target was Kokura, but cloud cover forced the pilot to bomb
a secondary target instead.....Nagasaki.
After Russia declared war against Japan, the Japanese gave and surrendered. Not many people knew that the U.S. military was planning a massive land invasion of the Japanese empire on November first.Estimates of U.S. losses in such an invasion reached as high as one million while Japan's
losses would've been in the millions. Truman hoped that the two atom bombs would make them surrender so that the land invasion wouldn't be
necessary...he wanted to end the war and stop the killing.
This fascinating account of the development and bombing mission of the atom bomb addresses the question that has been asked for the last 70
years.....did the U.S. need to drop two atom bombs on Japan to make them surrender? This detailed account is extremely riveting and I'd recommend it to anyone who's a WW II history buff.
Its a minute-by-minute account and is relentlessly to the point. No long history about multiple players, no digressing.
Anything and everything related to the A-Bomb project is there, but no fat, like personal incidents, when they were children, etc.
At times, it is really funny: like Groves wielding power like a God and acting like one. And the film getting chewed up at Tinian, or the upside-down military insignia.
I hope the author writes more books like these.
UPDATE: With the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, I have gone back and read this book again. I strongly recommend this highly readable and very interesting book. The world has remained safer since the development and employment of these weapons. How can I say that? Look at combat casualties that occurred in world conflict before 1945 compared to after 1945. World powers have exercised more restraint. We can all wish that nuclear weapons could be eliminated, but this will probably never happen. Read this book to better understand how this journey started. As a military officer in the nuclear enterprise, I recommend this book wholeheartedly.