“… It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.” -President Harry S. Truman
The question of whether or not America should have dropped the atomic bombs on Japan in World War II has long and often been debated. It did bring an end to the war as Japan surrendered a few days after the second bomb was dropped. The history leading up the decision to use the bombs is brought to light in Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly. The Pacific front was much different than the European front and the cruelty and desperation of the Japanese must be understood when discussing Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I read O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan and learned a lot about that time period and the president from that book. My husband read Killing Lincoln and said it was really well-written, too. I added all of the “Killing” series books to my to-read list and Killing the Rising Sun was the first to pop up with my library ebook holds. I lived a total of 6 years of my childhood in Japan, including 2 in Okinawa, so I was very interested in how this book portrayed the Pacific front of the war. I have read Jeff Shaara’s book about the Pacific front and watched HBO’s miniseries Pacific, too (produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks). It seems to be an often-overlooked part of WWII.
I learned a lot in this book – more than I was expecting. There was a lot of focus on Oppenheimer, MacArthur, Truman and the Japanese Emperor Hirohito. Several heroes from the Pacific are mentioned, including John Basilone and Desmond Doss of Hacksaw Ridge. I learned more of the atrocities committed by the Japanese and Chinese, but also learned that the Japanese did medical experiments on prisoners, including Americans, in a similar fashion to what the Nazis did in Germany.
This story was very personal to O’Reilly as his own father fought in the Pacific campaign. It is a book that definitely brings this aspect of history to life and tries to state the facts of the situation and letting the reader determine his or her own thoughts on if the atomic bombs were necessary. I would recommend this book to any adult who loves history. So far all of the “Killing” books by O’Reilly have been very well-written and I have learned a lot from them.