It has become something of a tradition for western leftists to commemorate the August 6th and 9th 1945 US A-bomb attacks on Imperial Japan, and to try and make the case that even if the first bomb was needed — which it was not — that the second bomb was what amounted to a war crime because the American government and military knew the Japanese were trying to surrender, but wanted to intimidate the Soviet Union with the A-Bomb.
I have dealt with this annual leftist commemoration ritual with myth-destroying commemorations of my own explaining why leftists are wrong on this. See the following posts:
2014 — History Friday — The WMD Back-Up Plans for the Atomic Bomb
2013 — History Friday: US Military Preparations The Day Nagasaki Was Nuked
2012 – Nagasaki Plus 67 Years
2011 – Happy V-J Day!
2010 – Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Saving Hirohito’s Phony Baloney Job and
Hiroshima — The A-bomb plus 65 years
My Chicago Boyz commemoration is different this year in that it is a list of reviews from popular culture video and books that show how American culture looks at what might have happened — if Japan had continued fighting World War 2 after the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — and there had to be “The Invasion That Never Was”. Each review will be a text thumbnail of the content, a link, my impression and at the end of all the reviews I’ll share what I see as the problems that all of them share. Problems that amount to a cultural paradigm blind spot that I mentioned in my “Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Saving Hirohito’s Phony Baloney Job” back when I started these annual columns in 2010.
The first review is of the old History Channel series “Secrets of War Declassified” Episode 2 of 20: “Japan: The Invasion That Never Was”. This Charlton Heston narrated video is available through both Amazon.com and its current content-rights owner, Mills Creek Entertainment, at this link.
The video gives a reasonable back story to a 1990s cable channel audience on the historical military and political forces leading to the alternative decisions of invasion or to drop the atomic bombs by President Truman. It is told predominantly from the American professional academic military historian point of view, which while I agree with generally, leaves out much of the Chinese, Russian and British Commonwealth perspective on these events. This was reasonable editorial choice, as there is only so much you can put in a 51 minute video for an American cable channel audience. Overall the video has aged well in terms of production values from its original History Channel airing and the rich-voiced Charlton Heston narration make it a must-own for those interested in the era.
Full Episode is also on Youtube and a link is embedded above.
Next are five book reviews of “Alternate histories” published between 1971 and 2015 in order of publication date.
1. Death Is Lighter than a Feather (1971 as “Lighter than a feather,” re-issued 2001 with the current title and a John R. Skates afterword) by David Westheimer. It is the founding book of this particular genre and it set a high bar.
Death Is Lighter than a Feather is a series of well written scenes from the perspective of American, British and Japanese participants in the invasion of Kyushu. The book was authored by the screen writer of Von Ryan’s Express, David Westheimer, with the assistance of Alfred Coxx, the foremost American historian of WW2 Japan at the time. The book assumes no atomic bombs and shows a “reasonable” price for the invasion of Kyushu followed by the Japanese surrender.
The book was heavily influenced by the anti-hero movement in Hollywood films of that time and includes one scene of an attempted rape of a Japanese woman by a US Marine and another rape of an American Nisei young woman (returned to Japan by a strict father) by Japanese army troops.
The best section of the book is from the perspective of a Japanese Army Colonel commanding an infantry battalion fighting to the death against American Army assaults. This story in the book has made a lasting impression on generations of both diplomatic and military historians in professional academia world wide, including the likes of authors John Skates and Edward Drea, as it well captured the WW2 Samurai mindset of Japanese officers.
The book is very much worth owning for this section alone.
That said, Death Is Lighter than a Feather has no real narrative theme or character story tying together the various well written scenes for a mass market audience. And overall the book has not aged well from its period “messaging” and its “bracing 1970s realism” suffers from the mass declassification of WW2 Operation Downfall military planning files of the late 1990s — files that were unavailable to Alvin Coxx in 1970 when David Westheimer consulted with Coxx.
2. The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan (1983) by Alfred Coppel
This is a novel of the invasion of Honshu, Operation Coronet. Like the earlier “Death Is Lighter than a Feather”, the atomic bomb does not make an appearance in this book as it failed at the Trinity test. The story is centered around an American Ranger captain who is a son of a missionary and was raised in Japan, his raised-in-California Nisei translator and the Ranger captain’s male and female childhood Japanese playmates.
This book is not as well researched as “Death Is Lighter than a Feather”, but has a much better flow as a story. There are scenes of mass attacks by Japanese civilians on American troops, very post-Vietnam sounding worries about the effect of reporting that on the American public’s support of the war as voiced by Pres. Truman, and the death of three of the four main characters in the closing pages of the book.
Overall I did not care for the book.
3. 1945: A Novel (2007) by Robert Conroy
This alternate history diverges from our own in assuming that the Imperial Guards coup against Emperor Hirohito succeeds with the help of Japanese war minister General Anami. The coup exterminates the leaders of the Japanese peace faction, locks up Hirohito and installs General Tojo back in as dictator.
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are no more American A-bombs due to the fear of radiation casualties that American Ultra intelligence of Japanese military transmissions provides. While there are many battle scenes, and one very well thought out twist to how Japanese bi-plane Kamikazes could be used, like most Robert Conroy alternate histories on WW2, there is little appreciation of mundane but vital things like logistics. And there is a serious helicopter based rampaging plot device to get a Japanese surrender over Tojo’s dead body.
If you like Conroy’s style of alternate history, this is a book for you. For me it was a Dallas Public Library read rather than a purchase.
4. MacArthur’s War: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan (2007) by Douglas Niles, Michael Dobson
This is a gonzo alternate history of the invasion of Japan that diverges from our time line at Midway in 1942, with USAAF skip bombing of Japanese warships there and the discrediting of Admirals King and Nimitz’s Central Pacific Drive by the failed invasion of Tarawa. Thus giving General Douglas MacArthur sole command of the Pacific theater.
MacArthur’s drive through New Guinea proceeds faster with the carriers of the canceled Central Pacific drive with a “Great Leyte Turkey Shoot” in Mid 1944.
This is followed by invasions of Leyte, Luzon, the rapid follow up American partial invasion with bypass of Okinawa, with MacArthur using Australian troops to garrison Okinawa north of the Shuri Line, behind which the Japanese 32nd Army not so quietly starves.
The first Kamikazes make their appearance at the invasion of Kyushu and the closing pages see General Patton commanding an armored Corps on the Kanto Plains driving to Tokyo before the A-bomb is ready.
While a fun read, it is more gonzo fantasy than alternate history. This was another Dallas Public Library book loan.
5. X-Day: Japan: Front Line Reporting at the Greatest Invasion and the Dawn of Nuclear Warfare (2015), by Shawn D. Mahaney
“X-Day: Japan: Front Line Reporting at the Greatest Invasion and the Dawn of Nuclear Warfare” is the single best researched alternate history of the aborted by Atomic bomb invasion of Japan you are going to find. It is gloriously filled with maps and even accurate to the day weather reports! And as the title suggests, nuclear weapons are involved…but not at Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Both cities are spared nuclear fire, but not the kind dealt out to Tokyo and other Japanese urban centers by hordes of Gen. Curtis LeMay’s incendiary-dropping B-29s.
The plot device to hang together the alternate history story of the invasion of Japan is the use of an Ernie Pyle-like combat reporter named Walt Tuttle as the eyes and ears of the audience. This fictional alternate history is set up as a 2015 re-issue of a 1952 book based on Tuttle’s uncensored 16 July 1945 to 17 Jan 1946 reports from the Pacific with Shawn D. Mahaney, the author of the book, as the “editor” of the 2015 re-issue of Walt Tuttle’s book.
Tuttle as the audience’s POV character lets you see the unfolding of the invasion from its Okinawan-typhoon-disrupted X-Day logistical build up, the flawed intelligence of the planned preliminary landings on small islands off Kyushu, the bloody “X-day” assault on land, sea and air, and the desperate Japanese counter attacks that almost reach the invasion beaches.
The awful “grind” of late Pacific War infantry combat is repeated through out the book as various American combat units assault fortified Japanese positions, bleed out from casualties, get removed from the line, are rebuilt and then sent to bleed again.
The “Iwo Jima inside Kyushu” by the 5th Marine Division and US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division at Sakura-Jima peninsula, far inside the Kagoshima-Wan (-wan is bay in English) anchorage the US Navy wanted, was very well thought out from the military wargaming point of view by the author.
It is this bleeding out that finally makes the mass appearance of the atomic bomb and General Douglas MacArthur inevitable at the book’s close.
“X-day” is available as an e-book for $2.99 and preview excerpts are available on Shawn D. Mahaney’s web site www.xdayjapan.com
OUTSIDE THE CULTURAL PARADIGM
In the video and all of these books, a few things stood out.
First, every single one assumed America was going to “win” if it invaded, for values of winning with hundreds of thousands of American dead and wounded with orders of magnitude more dead Japanese from war and famine.
As Iraq has shown recently with the deposing of Saddam Hussein, winning the war is not winning the peace. The defeated people (Sunni Arabs in Iraq) get a vote on what the peace means. The famine the American “transportation campaign” imposed, using airpower to mine coastal waters and destroy Japanese railways, would have left it impossible to feed millions of Japanese in the event of invasion. This mass death would have affected the loyalty of the Japanese people to the Emperor post-war and quite likely flipped the Japanese communist in the Cold War with all the implications of that change down the timeline.
Second, there is a great deal of post-WW2 magical thinking on the atomic bomb. Even Secrets of War: Declassified, “Japan: The Invasion That Never Was” sees the atomic bomb in magical terms. It took a great deal of American unlimited, ruthless, mass killing and destruction to induce the cultural shock necessary for Emperor Hirohito to get a Japanese surrender over the Imperial Japanese Military’s Samurai Death Cult’s objections. The atomic bombs were simply mass killing data points that rivaled the March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo, they weren’t a change in kind. It was the American willingness to kill however many it took to win, not the atomic bomb, that was important here.
Third, last, and most important, the role of the American people in war — like that of the Japanese in the peace — is ignored. The suicidal resistance of the Imperial Japanese Military in the last year of the Pacific War, which was communicated by those fighting there to their relatives, then later by the media after the official wartime veil of secrecy over Kamikaze attacks was lifted, convinced them that the Japanese were not human. This feeling by the American public was going to be hugely intensified when the British Operation Zipper landings in Malaya happened on September 9 1945, at which point there would not have been any surrender.
This is because the IJA had issued orders to all their foreign commands, to be implemented when the British invaded Malaya, to execute:
o All Allied prisoners of war;
o All interned Allied civilians;
o All other Allied civilians they could catch in China, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines.
This is from Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb by George Feifer, and states at page 573:
“After the fall of Okinawa, Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchi issued an order directing his prison camp officers to kill all their captives the moment the enemy entered his southeast Asia theater. That would have been when those 200,000 British landed to retake Singapore, less than three weeks after the Japanese surrender. There was a real chance that Terauchi’s order would have been carried out, in case up to 400,000 people would have been massacred.”
Allied signals intelligence (MAGIC) intercepted and decoded the mid-to-late July 1945 order from Imperial General Headquarters (GHQ) to Terauchi to prepare for this. Emperor Hirohito knew this through his sources on the GHQ staff. General Marshall and the other American joint chiefs of staff would have read that intercept before Hirohito’s sources would have told him.
America would have had to kill most of the Japanese military that was doing that mass killing. Which the American people would have made sure happened, and millions of Allied civilians would have been victims of the IJA rampage before its extermination, except for the reality of the Atomic bomb.
All things considered, the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the best way to end the Pacific War, because they gave us a lasting peace.
So again, with feeling, Thank God for the Atomic Bomb.
You will also find at Mahaney’s www.xdayjapan.com web-site forum comments from me to Shawn on the accuracy of his book. Shawn made a number of changes in his final draft based on information I sent to him. While I didn’t agree with some of his story as told from the research point of view — IMO Japanese suicide small boats were not the threat made out — these were trivial in nature and the scenes he wrote with Japanese suicide boats were well worth keeping from the story telling point of view.
26 thoughts on “Hiroshima, Nagasaki & The Invasion That Never Was (+70)”
What might be educational is to calculate and post daily the casualties incurred daily and cumulatively, US, UK, IJ, and civilian starting on August 10 and running through September of the following year compared to the actual losses at H&N. It would be interesting to know when Curt would have begun to burn the rubble.
I have an interesting alternate history book called Rising Sun Victorious, which is a series of essays as chapters that are very interesting. I thought I had written a book review but I guess not. It offers arguments about what-if questions from battles like Midway and the October typhoon.
Yes another issue that is little discussed is the problems of shifting the US Army from Europe to the Pacific. High points officers and non-coms would have been sent home and there would have been considerable resistence to canceling those leaves.
Marshall was very worried about Army manpower about the time of the Battle of the Bulge and the Selective Service had basically decided the war was won and stopped calling up draftees.
I doubt we would have defeated Japan without the atomic bomb. Maybe the starvation plan would have worked. I doubt it.
Mike, our backup plan for the Bomb was to gas the Japanese from the air like bugs, starting with their cities.
Mrs. Davis, my estimate was at least 50 million more dead had Japan not surrendered by September 1945.
Trent, I read a recent story on some British news site, by a former POW, that the Japanese guards of his camp had told the prisoners a few days before Hiroshima was nuked (on August 6, 1945) that they would all be executed the next week – the second week of August.
The links to the chemical warfare planning are just to plans. Did we have the capability to manufacture and deliver that much poison gas onto the Japanese?
What agents would we have used? The US didn’t know of nerve gases yet and chlorine and mustard would not be mass-effective against area targets. Probably phosgene or lewisite but the 50,000 tons mentioned for the first fortnight is about equal to ALL the poison gas delivered in WWI.
Hence, I’m skeptical that this got much beyond the speculation stage. although I don’t doubt it would be done if deemed to be war-winning.
Whitehall, the US had already moved at least a hundred thousand tons of chemical munitions to Okinawa and the Philippines by June of 1945. More was in Hawaii and the Australians had a lot too. The Aussies are generally overlooked in WW2 Pacific research. In terms of actual use, transport and production leadtime of the period was such that all stocks planned for use prior to the spring of 1946 had to be on the West Coast by July of 1945, with at least half being already in the theaters of use. Which was the case.
As I remember, a large fraction of that was Lewisite.
_The links to the chemical warfare planning are just to plans. Did we have the capability to manufacture and deliver that much poison gas onto the Japanese?_
we had the plan to nuke 2 of their cities clown!!11!!
First bomb to end the war against Japan.
Second bomb to intimidate Stalin [gale of riotous laughter].
Too bad we didn’t have a third, fourth, and fifth bomb to end the USSR.
To American Leftists, “fascism” is George Bush, red-necks, and Tea Partiers, and these latte-sipping, pajama-wearing wanna be intellectuals have no clue as to the emotions whipped up in wars against real fascists. While Leftists’ rhetoric denounces “fascism” in the most extreme terms possible, Leftists then go on to condemn the use of nuclear weapons to defeat fascism (real fascism, not the the “fascism” of Leftist imagination), as if real fascism would be easy to defeat as the typical RINO with a few speeches and some subterfuge.
>>First bomb to end the war against Japan.
>>Second bomb to intimidate Stalin [gale of riotous laughter].
>>Too bad we didn’t have a third, fourth, and fifth bomb to
>>end the USSR.
Is pure leftist agiprop.
Bomb #3 was going to be aimed at Tokyo, if Adm Nimitz and Gen Spaatz had anything to do with it.
They were preempted by Gen. Leslie Groves who withheld its shipment after Nagasaki on his own initiative. This slowed shipment long enough for Pres Truman’s 2nd thoughts after Nagasaki and his subsequent “hold order” to take effect.
Good article Trent. Been way too long since we heard from you……
Write that McArthur book dammit!
It is all I can do right now to write at all.
Promotions at work and three Children under 8-years old do that.
The bombs likely saved my life and the life of my wife.
Both of our fathers were in the Philippines training for the invasion. My father was a BAR gunner, her’s was in an anti-tank platoon.(also tasked with laying and digging up mines).
We were both born after the war.
I understand Trent. At one time I had 4 boys under 8 yrs old. That really cut into hobby time, and I never really had time to pursue those hobbies until they were all gone….
Great post, thanks.
These were more than just “plans”.
They were deployment orders.
The “roll up” of American logistical bases from Australia included all of MacArthur’s primary chemical warfare stocks.
Those CW stocks were several times Australia’s own stocks, which in turn were larger than the stocks of Japanese chemical weapons the American occupation discovered in the Japanese home islands in 1945-46.
See: Geoff Plunkett, Chemical Weapon Stocks 1943-1945
Norman Polmar and Thomas Allen wrote and sold three versions of this POISONOUS INVASION PRELUDE article
I am quoting for below, once in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, once in the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute and once in the Fall 1995 issue of the Journal of Military History.
This is as far as I am going to push “fair use” in a blog comment:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
August 4, 1995
POISONOUS INVASION PRELUDE
Author: THOMAS B. ALLEN AND NORMAN POLMAR, NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL
While most known documents discussing U.S. use of poison gas in the war addressed tactical operations, the newly disclosed report of June 1945 raised the killing of enemy civilians to a level far beyond anything seen in World War II. No known military document from World War II recommends such wholesale killing of civilians.
To reach the magnitude of 5 million deaths, historians must turn to the Holocaust, the killing of nearly 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany. By comparison, the German bomber blitz of London in 1940-1941 killed 40,503; Allied bombing killed about 45,000 in Hamburg, Germany, in July 1943 and 135,000 in Dresden in February 1945; and the firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945 killed more than 83,000.
On Pacific major battlefields, the death tolls had been: Okinawa (1945) 12,000 Americans, 100,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians; Iwo Jima (1945) 7,000 Americans, 23,000 Japanese soldiers; and Saipan (1944) 16,500 Americans, 51,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians.
Three officers of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Warfare Service wrote the study and on June 9, 1945, submitted it to the chief of the Chemical Warfare Service, Maj. Gen. William N. Porter, who approved their plan.
On June 14, other documents show, Fleet Adm. Ernest J. King received a secret report on poison gas from Marshall. These two men were the principal advisers of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his successor, Harry S. Truman, who had become president on April 12, 1945.
Truman had announced a sweeping endorsement of Roosevelt’s war policies — including a demand for the unconditional surrender of Japan. But he had not publicly spoken on the subject of use of poison gas.
But in June 1945 — with Marshall and King considering use of poison gas — Truman met with his principal military and civilian advisers in the White House to discuss the future of the war. The principal topic of the June 18 meeting was Operation Downfall, the overall plan for the invasion of Japan.
The minutes of that meeting refer to other, undisclosed topics that were discussed behind closed doors in the White House. It is now known that the atomic bomb was discussed.
It appears that the gas attack proposal had reached the highest level of government. On June 21, orders went out to step up production of several types of poison gas to bring stockpiles up to the massive amounts urged in the study.
The largest poison-gas raid would be on Tokyo because an “attack of this size against an urban city of large population should be used to initiate gas warfare.”
The planners targeted 17.5 square miles (45.5 square kilometers) directly north of the Imperial Palace and west of the Sumida River. In that area were 948,000 people. Within two miles of the target area were another 776,000 more people; they would probably be in the path of wind-carried gas.
The plan was to launch the gas attack on Tokyo at 8 in the morning, when the greatest number of people would be concentrated in the city.
Bombers would drop either 21,680 gas bombs weighing 500 pounds or 5,420 bombs weighing 1,000 pounds, depending upon the availability bombs. All of the bombs would be filled with a gas known as phosgene.
}First bomb to end the war against Japan.
}Second bomb to intimidate Stalin
It was essential to demonstrate three things,
– having the bomb
– having the ability to make many of them *
– having the willingness to use them
Those conditions are met only by bombing exactly two cities.
* – It was thought in most scientific circles into the 40s that an enormous amount of material, many thousands on pounds, would be required to get a bomb-grade chain reaction. The point was explicitly raised by Japanese army leaders on August 8.
Here are some air bombardment numbers courtesy of Ryan Crierie’s research into the 20th Air Force files in the National Archives.
The US Strategic bombing campaign dropped these tonnages of weapons on Japan with the these historic results:
Incendiaries —– 105,978 tons (USSBS*)
High Explosives — 65,082 tons (USSBS)
Deaths ———– 305,500 (averaged from numerous sources)
Wounded ———- 415,000 (averaged from numerous sources)
Homeless ——– 9,200,000 (Pittsburg Press 24 Nov 1945)
This worked out a casualty ratio of
2.88 Deathes per ton of Incendiary Bombs (IB)
3.92 Wounded per ton IB
86.81 Homeless per ton of IB
The NARA files on 20th Air Force (**) showed that for Aug-Sept 1945 the following bomb tonnage drops were planned
80,066 ton IB
28,515 tons of HE
108,581 total bombs
This would have caused, based upon past data posted above, the following total Japanese civilian casualties:
Without the A-bomb, the USAAF intended to kill and wound 1/2 million Japanese civilians — and render homeless another almost 7 million — in further urban attacks during August-September 1945.
And this was before the transportation campaign kicked off during 1 Oct- 30 Nov 1945.
Those 500,000 Japanese, less those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are the minimum number of Japanese lives saved by the A-bomb surrender.
* United States Strategic Bombing Survey
** This is from the files of the 20th Air Force Operational Research Division
Thank you, I have become better informed and my doubts about the planning for chemical warfare against the Japanese removed.
As to the site of the first poison gas attack on Tokyo, I was just there two weekends ago, in that specific neighborhood, visiting the Yasukuni war shrine and Tokyo tower.
BTW, tomorrow the 15th is Korea independence day when they celebrate the overthrow of the Japanese occupation of Korea and its liberation. I’m proud that my father fought in the Pacific against the Japanese as a SeaBee in the Solomons. His service was in no way as gruesome as others but he did get bombed a couple of times and brought back some jungle rot on his feet.
I honor his service and that of others.
In Germany in 1945 my father, who hadn’t much enjoyed killing lots of Germans, and hadn’t enjoyed being at frequent risk of imminent death himself, was none too happy at having to train to go and do the like with the Japs. He was delighted that the Bombs ended the war. He was then put on Intelligence Duties, which (I think) involved trying to distinguish Nazis from non-Nazis. It wasn’t easy, he said, because there were almost no genuine anti-Nazis, and everyone lied by saying that they had had no idea about the Concentration Camps or the slaughter of the Jews. He’d had a bellyful of the ruddy war and just wanted to go home to his wife.
” there were almost no genuine anti-Nazis”
Have you ever seen the hilarious Billy Wilder movie “One, Two, Three ?”
Billy Wilder was a great Hollywood director who was a German Jew who emigrated early. The movie is very fast paced and very funny with James Cagney in the best comedy role I’ve ever seen him in. He is working in Berlin in the late 50s. All the German staff, of course deny being Nazis but all behave as though they had been.
I’ve seen that one. Very funny. Biting satire covering the whole political spectrum.
My uncle (since passed) served as an MP during the war and was in Germany until 1946. I haven’t thought about this for a long time, but he told stories of talking with Germans who lived near concentration camps. He said they admitted that everyone knew what was happening, and that it was impossible not to because of the noxious odors. He spent a lot of time rounding up former Nazis and de-militarizing the Germans. According to him in the first few months after VE Day it was still pretty dicey.
He told another story of his squad storming U-boats just before the war ended because the Kriegsmarine had plans to either skuttle them or smuggle them out of port.
The weirdest story he told was trying to deal with roving bands of Polish bandits on horseback who would ride in and loot and terrorize German villages. He likened them medieval brigands. I’ve never heard or read about it anywhere since but don’t doubt his recollections.
Grurray said —
>>He told another story of his squad storming U-boats
>>just before the war ended because the Kriegsmarine
>>had plans to either skuttle them or smuggle them
>>out of port.
Considering what happened at Scapa Flow (sp?) with the German High Seas fleet, This is pretty solid.
>>The weirdest story he told was trying to deal with
>>roving bands of Polish bandits on horseback who would
>>ride in and loot and terrorize German villages. He
>>likened them medieval brigands. I’ve never heard or
>>read about it anywhere since but don’t doubt his
There are lots of things about WW2 that didn’t make the history books.
The era of 1945-46 is a grey area where many “impossible” things were happening simultaneously, in the same armed forces/intelligence bureaucracies, and directly against the stated policy goals of many of the nation-state combatants.
There is a reason Thomas Pynchon wrote his 1973 book “Gravity’s Rainbow” as he did.
The funny thing is that I had a lot of older relatives who served and fought, and believe me, I spent hours and hours grilling them all about their war experiences. It never fails, though, that there’s always something that creeps up where I think, ‘Damn I wish they were here so I could ask them about this’.
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