“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!
Well, Dear Reader, here we are on Wednesday, November 2, 2022. The 11th month of the year began yesterday, and although the weather is still typically “Florida” – warm mornings, hot afternoons, and cool evenings – the days are getting a bit shorter, and already some “Christmas” stuff is making its way to store shelves and mass media advertising.
Here, the Caregiver has already taken down all the elaborate decorations she puts up every Halloween. After living for over 50 years with my mom, who was not interested in themes where decorations were concerned except during the Christmas holiday season, I had a bit of “culture” shock when I realized that my now-ex-girlfriend loves to change the décor of her house according to not just specific holidays but also the four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, and winter).
Of course, I have now been living here for slightly over six years, so the novelty is gone, and it’s just part of life in Lithia, Florida in the third decade of the 21st century.
And since it’s been a while since my last To Be Read (TBR) stack report, I am proving to be just as predictable as the Caregiver when it comes to my habits, especially when it comes to books, buying books, and reading books.
“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” ― Sir Francis Bacon
As is my wont, I began November by buying – and thus adding to my TBR stack – another book this month: Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947, another non-fiction and scholarly – in a good way – examination of the process that went into the planning of Operation Downfall and the rationale behind President Harry S. Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945.
For many years, many people in the United States, Western Europe, and elsewhere, mostly liberals, have floated the notion that the use of nuclear weapons against Japanese cities was an unnecessary, barbaric, and immoral act. The main thesis in the argument – beyond, of course, the death toll from the A-bombs and the lingering effects of radiation on residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – is that Japan was soundly beaten militarily and that the military-run government was seeking peace with the United States, the British Empire, and the Netherlands, using the ostensibly neutral Soviet Union as a mediator between the two camps.
Unfortunately, as the respected Pacific War historian Richard B. Frank’s Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire shows, the historical record, especially the paper trail left in the MAGIC intercepts of Japanese diplomats’ cables to and from Tokyo regarding how the Japanese government wanted the Asia-Pacific War to end does not reflect the “A-bomb attacks were unnecessary” arguments.
Nor is it true that Truman and his advisors, already concerned about the coming parting of ways with America’s wartime ally, the Soviet Union, sought to use the A-bomb as a warning to Soviet leader Josef Stalin to keep the Red Army from invading Hokkaido – the northernmost of the four main Home Islands – and demonstrate the destructive power of nuclear weapons to deter “Uncle Joe” from further expansion of the Soviet empire in war-weary Europe.
I have long been fascinated by World War II “what-if” scenarios, and the biggest, most interesting “what-if” for me centers on Operation Downfall. So much so that I’ve bought and read two novels about it: David Westheimer’s Death Is Lighter than a Feather – which was reissued as Downfall in the 1970s or 1980s – and Alfred Coppel’s The Burning Mountain, as well as two nonfiction books, Frank’s Downfall and Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan – and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb by Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar.
I ordered Hell to Pay, which was written by D.M. Griangeco and originally published by the Naval Institute Press in 2017 but revised, expanded, and reissued in 2020, last night. It shipped to Lithia from Haslet, Texas and should arrive tomorrow.
The Stack That Keeps on Growing…
As for my existing TBR stack….
Well, it hasn’t changed much, really. I haven’t devoted much time to read any of the titles that I’ve listed in previous On Books & Reading posts. Partly because I started working on a new screenplay, but mostly because the environment and my daily routine are not, shall we say, “reader-friendly.”
So, the current rotation, apart from Code-Name Downfall, is mostly unchanged from the previous post from October 10:
- One-third of Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War, 1945-1960, by James D. Hornfischer
- One-fourth of Fire & Steel: The End of World War Two in the West, by Peter Caddick-Adams
- One-half of The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle: Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger, by Thomas Wikman
- Five chapters of Star Wars: Brotherhood, by Mike Chen
I stopped reading, for the time being, the two books related to Osama bin Laden and the September 11 attacks. My heart, it seems, just wasn’t up to reading them from cover to cover just yet.
So, that’s where things stand, Dear Reader, at least in my little niche of books and reading.
I don’t have anything else to report, so I will close this post here. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
 Incidentally, yesterday was my second school-age girlfriend Kerri Ellsworth’s 60th birthday. 50 years ago today, we were still at two different schools; she was in the fourth grade at Tropical Elementary School, while I was still a third grader at Coral Park Elementary, where I still had not yet told Cheryl T. that I had feelings for her. I had no idea then that my time at Coral Park was about to end, and that on November 16 I’d be riding Bus #156 to Tropical – thus placing me on the path to my first long-term relationship with a girl.
6 thoughts on “On Books & Reading: Another ‘Downfall’ Book Becomes an Addition to the Ol’ TBR Stack”
Thank you so much, Alex, for highlighting my book again.
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Any time, Thomas!
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I took a course on The Cold War which I have always found very interesting and I remember learning about two nuclear bombs. It was interesting because we learnt about it from different points of view which I always feel is best because then you can decide your thoughts on it for yourself.
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My minor was in history, and one of the things I’ve learned is that history is not a perfect science, and that the worldview of who teaches the subject seriously affects how he/she teaches, and which facts he/she chooses to divulge, and which ones are left out.
Here in the U.S., for instance, grade school students are usually taught a bland, whitewashed, and often mythical version of history that usually “edits out” the not-so-nice bits about our past.
It’s not till we get to post-secondary education that students get a wider, more realistic view of history. I had good history profs at Miami-Dade Community College, and I did learn a lot from them.
That having been said, if I had a leftist (and I mean really leftist) prof telling me stuff that I knew sounded a bit too reflective of her views, I could tell that she was trying to inject her personal opinions into her presentation.
Regarding the topic of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The concept that Truman dropped the Bomb for nefarious reasons was first floated in 1960, by which time the Cold War had been going on for well over a decade. The Soviets, of course, latched on to that notion because it could use it against the U.S. in its propaganda efforts. And, of course, since many leftists in the U.S. and elsewhere tended to see the U.S. government as the source of everything bad and evil, they, too, latched on the Cold War reasoning that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were really a warning shot across Moscow’s bow.
However, every book I’ve read about Downfall says otherwise, and they cite relevant documents from Washington, Moscow, and more important, Tokyo.
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I majored in history and I absolutely agree. History is never black or white. I was lucky enough to have really great professors too who tried to teach in an objective way allowing us to form our own opinions.
Yes, I do remember learning that in both my Cold War class and a class I took about the sixties. I think since the leftist pov about the Cold War popped up in the 60’s many events were then seen that way.
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I keep downloading books to my kindle to read. If I listed them all, the post would be nearly endless.
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