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Thursday, May 19, 2016

When 'NYT' Reporter Was Chief A-Bomb Propagandist

At this late date, many are still surprised when they learn that a famous NYT reporter, William L. Laurence, was embedded with the Manhattan Project when it produced the first atomic bombs, and then produced numerous articles, starting on the day Hiroshima was hit, for the Times (widely published elsewhere) that were the main source of background info on the project and the bomb--and promoted both.  After the bombings, he would write articles, after a visit to the site of our bomb test at Trinity, that essentially pooh-poohed concerns about radiation danger.   It's an amazing story, and if you want more see my books Atomic Cover-up and (with Robert Jay Lifton) Hiroshima in America.

I'll just note now:  a month after the Nagasaki attack, the Times published Laurence's account (68 years ago next Monday) of his experience when he was allowed to go along on the Nagasaki bombing.  I'll let you read it all here--it helped him win a Pulitzer--but no the general glorification, references to the "genial" crew members, and so on.  Also this concise statement:  "Does one feel any pity or compassion for the poor devils about to die? Not when one thinks of Pearl Harbor and of the death march on Bataan."  Note:  Only a few dozen  Japanese troops were killed in the attack.  The majority of the 80,000 or more killed were women and children.

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