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Downfall
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About the Author

Richard B. Frank was born in Kansas in 1947. He served for almost four years in the United States Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam as an aerorifle platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division. He is the author of Guadalcanal.

Reviews

Few historical issues have generated as much controversy as the question of whether the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was necessary to compel Japan's surrender. No single book can be expected to end such a heated debate, but Frank's masterly study of Japan's decision to surrender comes close to doing so. Based on extensive documentation from contemporary U.S. and Japanese diplomatic and military sources, it is the most authoritative treatment available of the end of the Pacific War. Frank (Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Campaign) emphasizes the enormous reluctance of Japan's military and civilian leaders even to consider, let alone accept, Allied demands for unconditional surrender prior to the atomic bombings. Skillfully weaving together the strands of military and diplomatic events, Frank contends that absent the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the war would have continued for at least several more months, at a cost in Japanese and Allied civilian and combatant lives far in excess of the admittedly awful toll that the atomic bombs exacted. A powerful work of history that belongs in all libraries.ÄSteven I. Levine, Univ. of Montana, Missoula Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

The premise behind this excellent history of the concluding stages of WWII in the Pacific is that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has cast a light so bright that it has blinded historians to many of the political, diplomatic and military realities that existed before August 6, 1945. In his comprehensive study of the last months of WWII, Frank (Guadalcanal) aims to present events "as they were perceived and recorded by American and Japanese participants in 1945Änot years or decades thereafter." In 1945, American strategists developed their plan, "Operation Downfall," for forcing the unconditional surrender of Japan. Japanese leaders, meanwhile, mobilized all available military and civilian resources for a final defense of the homeland. Though they knew the war was lost, Japanese military strategists believed their preparations were sufficient to compel the Allies to offer more generous terms on which the war might end. Frank immerses his readers in the flow of intelligence estimates, battle experience and shifting strategy on both sides. The centerpiece of the book is an exacting and dispassionate examination both of the American decision to use the atomic bomb and of whether Japan would have surrendered absent the bomb. Frank marshals an impressive and complex array of evidence to support his contention that surrender by Japan was by no means imminent in August 1945, and that alternatives to the bomb, such as incendiary bombing, carried no certainty of causing less suffering and fewer deaths than the atomic bomb. In his balanced use of sources and in his tough-minded sensitivity to moral issues, Frank has enriched the debate about the war's conclusion. Agent, Robert Gottlieb of William Morris. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Praise for Guadalcanal

"Brilliant . . . an enormous work based on the most meticulous research. Here is everything you might want to know about Guadalcanal."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Richard Frank has produced what will surely become the standard history of the U.S. Navy's most important campaign. . . . A stunning debut by a major new talent in American letters."
--Tom Clancy

"Guadalcanal is a masterly account of what happened and why. . . . Books of this quality are rare, and Richard B. Frank should be commended for his authoritative inaugural work."
--Chicago Tribune

"Mr. Frank's book is impressive in virtually all respects--a vividly and carefully crafted monument that is worthy of the Americans and Japanese who collided . . . on a little-known island named Guadalcanal."
--The New York Times Book Review

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