Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Re-Evaluating the Atomic Bomb and the Last Days of WWII

Southern Methodist University

Jeffrey Engel is the founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Haverford College, and taught history and public policy at Texas A&M University. He has authored/edited thirteen books on American foreign policy, most recently, When the World Seemed New: George H. Bush and the Surprisingly Peaceful End of the Cold War.



Everyone knows the debate: did “the bomb” end World War II? More specifically, were the Japanese already on the verge of calling it quits, or did the United States need to destroy yet more Japanese cities in August of 1945 to force Japan’s surrender? Put another way: Did newly sworn-in U.S. President Harry S. Truman make the right call?

It’s now nearly four generations since the first and only times atomic weapons were ever deployed in war, and the small number of those still alive who can recall 1945 is rapidly shrinking every day. What does new scholarship, new thinking, and new perspectives on the chaotic end of the largest and bloodiest war in human history reveal? And with the world facing, yet again, the prospect of nuclear warfare in Ukraine, North Korea, Kashmir, or Taiwan, is it finally time to end this ever-present, and ever-vexing, debate with the past?



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Very informative.

This presentation was well done. Very helpful in understanding the end of World War II. And understand the context of Truman’s and other policy makers’ decisions.

2 years ago
Juanita Sevilla

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Re-Evaluating the Atom Bomb and the act Days of WWII

Again Jeff Engle has given a brilliant lecture covering so much history and providing so many insights into a particular period of history. It was really important to me to hear a fully outlined description of the times and the process that led to the bombing. It was not emotionally driven although it is clear that it is an emotional human reaction to an event with which we all struggle. Jeff makes it very clear that we can only evaluate historic events if we look at what was then known, as opposed to what we think we know now.
Thank you so much, Jeff.

2 years ago
Nancy Hugo

I found this talk very interesting and very well-done. Even as an adolescent, I found it hard to make peace with the fact that America had dropped the bombs. My mother accused me of being a traitor. I attended a class in Bioethics which was taught, in part, by a local physician who had been a photographer during the war. He was among the first to enter Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombs were dropped and had footage of the injuries of many who survived the bombing. Nothing really helps make man’s inhumanity more acceptable, but I very much appreciate the manner in which this talk was presented. Thank you very much.

2 years ago
Marc Tanenbaum

To Be or Not To Be, That’s the Nuclear Question

Dr. Engel does a wonderful job presenting the question of the Bomb and its use from both sides. Very enlightening and very sobering. This should be required viewing by every debater on the subject.

2 years ago
Creel McCormack

Well organized presentation by a compelling speaker/professor.

Creel McCormack

2 years ago
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