Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, January 14, 2023, or: Low Temperatures, Cold Symptoms Put the Kibosh on a Planned Book Review


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A cold front passed through Central Florida between yesterday afternoon and early this morning, so the temperature in Lithia (as I write this) is 47°F/8°C under mostly cloudy skies on Saturday, January 14, 2023. The house is warmer than that, thank the Force, but I still have that nagging cold, and the combination of low temperatures and minor cold symptoms is not conducive to analytical writing, which is the style/mindset I need to be in when I write a review.

I have been taking both DayQuil gel caps and Vitamin C supplements to deal with the cold, and that is working. I don’t have a sore throat, congested lungs, a fever, or anything beyond a dull headache, occasional powerful sneezes, and a vague sense of tiredness. I’ve dealt with more serious respiratory illnesses in the past, and this kerfuffle with a cold virus is a walk in the park compared to those episodes.

(C) 1995 Simon & Schuster

Nevertheless, I still don’t feel like writing the long-planned review of Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan – And Why Truman Dropped the Bomb, a nonfiction book that examines the U.S. planned invasion of Japan, the preparations by both Americans and Japanese for what would have been the last campaign of World War II, and how Operations Olympic (the invasion of Kyushu) and Coronet (the landings on Honshu, near the Tokyo metro area) were canceled by Japan’s acceptance, on August 15, 1945, of the Potsdam Declaration’s terms for peace.

I have been a World War II buff for most of my life, and although the entirety of the conflict interests me, I am drawn to some topics more than others.

In brief, my favorite topics related to World War II are:

  • Aerial warfare
  • The D-Day (June 6, 1944) landings and the Normandy campaign
  • The campaigns to liberate Western Europe, starting with North African campaign and ending with the Allied advance into Germany and to the Elbe River
  • Naval warfare
  • Operation Market-Garden
  • The Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942)
  • Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941)
  • The war in the Pacific (1941-1945
  • The Battle of the Atlantic (1939-1945)
  • The Guadalcanal campaign (August 1942-February 1943)
  • Operation Downfall and the dropping of the Bomb
Map showing the outline plan of Operation Downfall.

I became interested in Downfall back when I was in college; I bought the paperback edition of Alfred Coppel’s 1983 The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan at my college campus’ bookstore during my freshman year at Miami-Dade Community College.

(C) 1983 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

A what-if novel in the vein of a Harry Turtledove novel, The Burning Mountain was based on the Japanese Ketsu-Go 6 plan for the defense of Tokyo and the Americans’ Operation Coronet. Coppel, who had trained to be a pilot during the war and was spared from seeing combat over Japan due to the war’s end in late summer of 1945, blended careful research into the real-life plans and preliminaries for Downfall with his ability to craft a story with believable fictional characters and the use of historical figures (such as President Harry Truman and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur) as players in the story.

One of the coolest things about The Burning Mountain is how Coppel changes history so that instead of having atomic bombs ready for use by August of 1945, the United States must carry out Downfall. If you haven’t read The Burning Mountain – it’s sadly out of print, but you can still sometimes find a copy on Amazon or in used bookstores – I won’t give it away. I will say that Coppel’s scenario is both Shakespearean and plausible.

I own three nonfiction books about Operation Downfall, including Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan- And Why Truman Dropped the Bomb. The Allen-Polmar book was published first (in 1995), but paradoxically I bought it after I purchased Richard B. Frank’s Downfall: The End of The Imperial Japanese Empire and Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947, by D.M. Giangreco.

The invasion of Japan, especially the often quoted “one million U.S. casualties” estimate that many critics of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb attacks say is exaggerated, is a fascinating topic, so I hope that I can beat this annoying cold so I can do that review of Code-Name Downfall.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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