The Yankee Spirit

From Barrett Tillman’s Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan 1942—1945, Chapter 8, “A Most Cruel Weapon”:

The raw materials came from Oak Ridge[, TN,] (uranium) and Hanford[, WA,] (plutonium). Both places were subject of much speculation, though some “explanations” leaned toward the whimsical. Student naval aviators at Pasco, Washington, were threatened with “death or worse” for overflying Hanford. Recalled one pilot, “ ‘Rumor Control’ had two theories as to Hanford’s purpose. Republicans said it was a secret factory making Roosevelt campaign buttons. Others said, ‘No, they’re making the front ends of horses for shipment to D.C. and final assembly.’”

This American joie d’vivre is not dead, but it’s not as much a part of the overculture anymore, alas.

And to continue a gripe begun in my review of Why American History Is Not What They Say, it’s refreshing to read Tillman’s book immediately after finishing that piece of crap, because Tillman actually did history in Japan, interviewing surviving soldiers and civilians, digging into military archives, and the Japan he presents — based, mark you, on actual evidence and understanding of what the culture was like at that historical moment, unlike Riggenbach’s fantasy — was in no way even thinking about surrender. Even when they understood that losing the war was inevitable.

People who say dropping two bombs on Japan was excessive? Unnecessary? An atrocity?

On the 10th[, after the Nagasaki bombing], the U.S. War Department stepped up its propaganda campaign, including leaflet drops and shortwave radio broadcasts. In a nine-day paper blitz the AAF was ordered to drop 16 million leaflets on forty-seven cities, potentially reaching 40 percent of the enemy population. Half a million Japanese-language newspapers were added to the aerial cascade, with articles and photos of the A-bomb attacks. However, “only” 6 million leaflets and an unspecified number of newspapers had been delivered by V-J Day.

American psychological warfare proved effective. Speaking of the leaflets and papers dispersed over urban areas, Rear Admiral Toshitane Takata acknowledged, “The dropping of pamphlets warning of impending raids caused conditions close to panic in some cities.”

Yeah. Before the propaganda campaign, but after two atomic bomb detonations, they were still set to keep fighting.

According to a Japanese admiral in the Imperial Navy, not some American politician.


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