Unconditional: The Japanese Surrender in World War II. New York.
|Hoff, Samuel B.
Marc Gallicchio. Unconditional: The Japanese Surrender in World War II. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2020. xvi + 264 pages. Hardcover, $27.95.
The debate over what was necessary for Japan's surrender in World War II is the topic of this important contribution. The book covers the disagreements over the meaning of the "unconditional surrender" demand first enunciated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the January 1943 Casablanca conference amongst Allied powers; Harry Truman's succession to the White House and his various warnings to Japan; the detonation of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the end of the Pacific war and the rebuilding of Japan; and the ongoing controversy over whether a less violent end to the conflict could have been avoided.
Author Marc Gallicchio is a Professor of History at Villanova University. He was awarded Fulbright Lectureships in Japan twice. His 2017 book co-written with Waldo Heinrichs, Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945, won the Bancroft Prize for History.
The present text has six chapters along with an Introduction and Conclusion. Gallicchio begins by observing that the passage of time has clouded the understanding of how the war with Japan concluded and perpetuated the debate over the use of atomic weapons. He holds that it is crucial to comprehend the context of actions on both the American and Japanese side by studying what information was available to decision-makers.
In the first two chapters, Gallicchio examines the impact of leadership transitions in America and Japan which occurred in April 1945. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt's death, Vice President Harry Truman took over. Among the challenges he faced pertaining to the Pacific War included defining the meaning of FDR's "unconditional surrender" demand expressed two years earlier. Truman faced conflicting advice on war termination strategy from advisors, Allies, and even from the military service branches. Meanwhile, Shigeneri Togo became Japan's
Foreign Minister in April 1945 and was the only member of the Supreme War Council to pursue early termination of the war.
In Chapters 3 and 4, the urgency of war's situation is vividly depicted. President Truman and his administration worried over Russian intervention in the Pacific conflict following the defeat of Germany. American public opinion was split on the war's prospects. Members of Congress insisted that the Truman White House clearly state the terms...
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