Previous posts in this discussion:
PostHoward Zinn and the Dropping of the Bomb on Japan (Francisco Ramirez, USA, 02/05/18 3:49 am)
Below is a critique from Sam Wineburg of a very popular textbook, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
Part of the critique focuses on the question of whether Japan was ready to surrender and we dropped the bomb to either punish them or impress the Soviet Union. The critique relies on more recent archival data and charges Zinn of sticking to his earlier thesis and ignoring recent evidence relevant to the thesis.
This is not my area of expertise, but I thought it would be good to consider evidence when putting forth our opinions on historical events.
Using nuclear weapons is not the sort of decision I even remotely have ever had to make. Informing some faculty that they are not getting tenure was bad enough for me.
JE comments: Tenure denial feels like getting nuked, if it happens to you.
Wineburg takes issue with Zinn for his historiographical certainty, the cocksuredness of his iconoclastic interpretations. Zinn has no use for nuances or the "perhaps," even when discussing counterfactuals. Regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Zinn sees two (and only two) explanations for the US decision: to justify the massive capital investment, and to awe/intimidate the Soviet Union. Wineburg presents evidence against the "imminent surrender anyway" thesis, specifically the peace overtures sent by Japan to the Soviet Union. The Soviets did not see the communication as anything other than a Japanese play for more time.