On August 6, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. It was the first time such a weapon was used. A few days later on August 9, 1945, the US dropped another atomic bomb, this time on the city of Nagasaki. To this day the US is the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon in warfare.
Many were killed instantly. The effects of the radiation and severe burns produced by the bombing continued to kill people for months and years. The US bombing also led to birth defects and higher rates of cancer. These gruesome acts ushered in a new era in which the world had to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation, an existential threat that is still with us today.
Mainstream depictions of the world’s first use of nuclear weapons paint it is a military necessity. This is false. It was a political decision on the part of US leaders.
As August is the 75th anniversary of both bombings, the Metro DC DSA Socialist Night School will be hosting Peter Kuznick to discuss the decision to use the atomic bomb, its impact, and what the ramifications of this decision are 75 years later.
Peter Kuznick is a Professor of History, and the Director of Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. He is the co-author (with Akira Kimura), Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japanese and American Perspectives, and “The Decision to Risk the Future: Harry Truman, the Atomic Bomb and the Apocalyptic Narrative” among other books and articles.
He also co-authored with Oliver Stone the New York Times best-selling The Untold History of the United States, which was also made into documentary television series for Showtime and is now available on Netflix.
Below, you will find a recording of the session.