Magazine October 31, 2011, Issue

Truman’s New World

A Japanese girl looks at a photograph of the atomic-bomb mushroom cloud at the Hiroshima Peace Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, August 5, 2004. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)
The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan, by Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C. (Cambridge, 192 pp., $24.99)

Back when I was in graduate school at Harvard in the early 1960s, I hoped to do my doctoral thesis on Reinhold Niebuhr, so questions of morality and politics were uppermost among my interests. This led me, naturally, to wonder about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan — and the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo. At the Catholic University of America a few years earlier, a prominent moral theologian, Fr. John Ford, S.J., had condemned these bombings as immoral: They were the direct killing of civilians in crowded urban areas.

My curiosity led me to a joint study by U.S.

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A bunch of obnoxious, freakish-looking people made a spectacle of themselves in downtown New York. You don’t say.

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