Did the Atomic Bomb Cause the Surrender of Japan? An Alternative Explanation of the End of World War II

Author: Hallett, Brien
In this provocative book Hallett argues that dropping the atomic bomb on Japan had no impact on their surrender to America. What was more important was the threat of a Soviet and American invasion, and the Japanese government preferred to deal with America rather than have the Soviets turn the country communist.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were certainly evil, but how evil? Evil in which way? Conventionally, their evil has been explained away by repeating that the atomic bombings ‘ended the war to save lives.’ If true, the evil was not truly evil. In this book, Professor Hallett challenges this all too comforting explanation. If lives were saved, then how many were saved, he asks? Did bombs cause the surrender of Japan; or was the Soviet involvement in the Pacific another influence among many that coincided with the end of the war? Reviewing the dramatic events of August, 1945, Hallett concludes that few, if any lives were saved and that the dropping of the atomic bombs was merely coincidental with the ending of the war. Instead, Soviet entry into the Pacific War was the immediate causal factor in the timing of the Japanese surrender. This study concludes that there was a banal evil induced by an ordinary lack of imagination on the part of President Truman and the American officials.


“The important conclusion is that decisions with evil consequences are likely to be made when ‘rigid bureaucratic compartmentalization creates the crack through which culpability falls.’”

Stephen T. Boggs,
University of Hawaii

“Professor Hallett, who has experienced both active military service and a long commitment to peace studies, offers here a prolegomena to exploratory scholarship about dropping the atom bomb on Japan. It evokes and provokes some revised thinking.”

George Simson,
University of Hawaii

Table of Contents

1. Foreword by George Simson
2. “Of Deaths Put on by Cunning and Forced Cause”
3. How Many Lives Were Saved?
4. Did the Bombs Force Japan to Surrender?
5. How Could it Happen? A Subjective Answer
6. Who Did It?
7. Truman: Archfiend?
8. How Could it have Happened? An Objective Answer
9. A Radically Banal Evil
10. A Failure of Imagination
11. The Past as Future
12. References
13. Index