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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Countdown to Hiroshima: X-Minus-19 Days

Two days ago in my annual series the highlight was the first nuclear test, at Trinity, on that date 73 years ago.  The following day, in Potsdam, Truman met Stalin for the first time, and had a new bounce in his step after receiving word of the positive test.  Still, he had to insist that the Soviets keep their promise to enter the war for he knew, as he wrote in his diary, that would mean "fini Japs," even without use of the atomic bomb.  As it would turn out, he decided not to wait for that but chose to use the bomb first.

He wrote in his diary on this date he was certain that Japan would would quit when "Manhattan" (his name for the bomb, from the still-secret Manhattan project) appeared in the sky.

Also today Gen. Leslie Groves, who managed the Manhattan effort, sent a long and detailed memo to Secretary of War Stimson on the Trinity test, which included eyewitness accounts by scientists and what would become a decades-long theme: downplaying the negative effects of radiation.  "It was followed and monitored by medical doctors and scientists with instruments to check its radioactive effects. While here and there the activity on the ground was fairly high, at no place did it reach a concentration which required evacuation of the population. Radioactive material in small quantities was located as much as 120 miles away. The measurements are being continued in order to have adequate data with which to protect the Government's interests in case of future claims."

This is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles and three books (including Atomic Cover-up  and Hollywood Bomb) since the early 1980s with a special emphasis on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression in the decades after.  

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