Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Most Controversial Decision
Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan


Part of Cambridge Essential Histories

  • Date Published: June 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521735360

£ 18.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This book explores the American use of atomic bombs and the role these weapons played in the defeat of the Japanese Empire in World War II. It focuses on President Harry S. Truman's decision-making regarding this most controversial of all his decisions. The book relies on notable archival research and the best and most recent scholarship on the subject to fashion an incisive overview that is fair and forceful in its judgments. This study addresses a subject that has been much debated among historians and it confronts head-on the highly disputed claim that the Truman administration practised 'atomic diplomacy'. The book goes beyond its central historical analysis to ask whether it was morally right for the United States to use these terrible weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It also provides a balanced evaluation of the relationship between atomic weapons and the origins of the Cold War.

    • Compelling subject covering Harry S. Truman's most controversial decision
    • Concise, engagingly written and powerfully argued
    • Forces historians and others to re-examine their conclusions on this much-debated topic
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Drawing on the many scholarly works that discuss the reasons why President Harry S. Truman and his closest advisers considered that the use of the atomic bomb against Japan in August 1945 was a necessary measure, the circumstances that surrounded the Japanese decision to surrender, and the role that possession of the atomic bomb may have played in American diplomacy towards the Soviet Union, Wilson Miscamble has also utilised his own formidable knowledge of the primary sources to produce a wonderfully compressed and trenchantly argued book.' International Affairs

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521735360
    • length: 192 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus. 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the most controversial decision
    2. Franklin Roosevelt, the Manhattan project, and the development of the atomic bomb
    3. Harry Truman, Henry Stimson, and atomic briefings
    4. James F. Byrnes, the atomic bomb, and the Pacific war
    5. The Potsdam conference, the trinity test, and 'atomic diplomacy'
    6. Hiroshima, the Japanese, and the Soviets
    7. The Japanese surrender
    8. Necessary, but was it right?
    9. Byrnes, the Soviets, and the American atomic monopoly
    10. The atomic bomb and the origins of the Cold War.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Historical Methods and Materials
    • Science and Society in Modern America
    • Seminar in Law and Values
    • The "Good War"
    • The Decision to Drop The Atomic Bomb
    • The Second World War
    • US History ll
    • World War ll: A Global History
  • Author

    Wilson D. Miscamble, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
    The Reverend Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., joined the permanent faculty at Notre Dame in 1988. A native of Australia, he was educated at the University of Queensland, from which he graduated in 1973 and obtained a master's degree three years later. In 1976, he came to Notre Dame to pursue graduate studies in history. He received his doctoral degree in 1980. He then served for two years as North American analyst in the Office of National Assessments, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra, Australia. In August 1982, he returned to Notre Dame and entered the priestly formation program of the Congregation of Holy Cross. He was ordained a priest on April 9, 1988. His primary research interest is American foreign policy since World War II. He is the author of George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947–1950 and Keeping the Faith, Making a Difference. He has edited American Political History: Essays on the State of the Discipline and Go Forth and Do Good: Memorable Notre Dame Commencement Addresses. His most recent book, From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War, was published in 2007 and received the Harry S. Truman Book Award in 2008.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.