Giangreco Rebuttal of Bernstein
In the July 1997 issue of the Journal of Military History, D. M. Giangreco published an article titled, "Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications" (pp. 521-81). The article was well-received -- the author won the Moncado Prize and the author was even featured on television. In the July 1998 issue of the Journal of Military History, Barton J. Bernstein wrote a review essay of Robert Ferrell's book, Harry S. Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History. In that piece he criticized Giangreco's article. Giangreco then circulated a response to the Bernstein comments titled, "Playing the Casualty Projections Shell Game: Rousseau or Monboddo?" (an abbreviated version will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal). Given the continued interest in the casualty debate, plus that fact that the published response will be considerably shorter, we are making the longer response available to historians. Here is the full text of the rebuttal, plus the cover letter. Permission has been granted by D. M. Giangreco to post this on the Internet.
Cover Letter to the Giangreco Rebuttal
31 July 98
By now you may have seen Barton J. Bernstein's review essay of Robert Ferrell's Harry S. Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History in the July 1998 Journal of Military History. I have felt compelled to compose a rebuttal to Bernstein's general views and also respond to his personal remarks about me in the same review. Although my riposte says exactly what I want it to say, it's current version is far too long to be printed in the journal (and is somewhat more "hot" than the final product should be). Therefore I am sending my thoughts to you, certain other Society for Military History members and several other scholars for two reasons:
First, I hope to get some useful feedback from scholars who are not as closely tied to the subject as myself on what might be readily discarded from my formal answer. Second, I am persuaded that it is best -- for myself in this case -- to respond quickly. An immediate response will not allow Bernstein his usual safety of leveling charges or attacks on peoples work in such a manner that, by the time they are able to respond in print, as much as a year has passed. Of course, by that time, the details of what he said originally -- which at times has been misleading or inaccurate -- are usually forgotten or not readily available to readers.
Any suggestions you may have to offer would be greatly appreciated. I will understand fully if you are too busy to assist.
D. M. Giangreco
Playing the Casualty Projections Shell
Rousseau or Monboddo?
D. M. Giangreco
"[Samuel] Johnson: 'Rousseau knows he is talking nonsense, and laughs at
the world for staring at him.' [James] Boswell; 'How so, Sir?' Johnson: 'Why
Sir; a man who talks nonsense so well, must know that he is talking nonsense.
But I am afraid (chuckling and laughing,) Monboddo does not know that he
is talking nonsense.'"(1)
I am delighted that the Journal of Military
History (JMH) has given me this opportunity to comment on Dr. Barton J.
Bernstein's review essay in their July 1998 edition. While his essay "Truman and
the Bomb: Targeting Noncombatants, Using the Bomb, and His Defending the
'Decision' "ostensibly examines Robert H. Ferrell's fine new work, Harry S.
Truman and the Bomb: A Documentary History, (2) Bernstein also offers
extended criticisms of my "Casualty Projections for the US Invasions of Japan:
Planning and Policy Implications," in the July 1997 JMH. Indeed, upon
learning of the raw length of Bernstein's critique (which, depending on how one
handles the word count, is anywhere from 1,600 to 2,200 words longer than the
total introductory text and headnotes in Truman and the Bomb ), a
quizzical Ferrell's immediate response was that the "only reason" for such a
treatment is to provide a vehicle to "attack" the casualties piece. Said
Ferrell: "It's a Trojan Horse!"
By placing his unfavorable critique in the
footnotes of a review essay, instead of in a letter, Bernstein both avoids a
peer review and successfully skirts the policy of this and most journals that
allows authors to immediately offer a response. Owing to the realities of
publication schedules, someone who has been criticized in such a manner should
feel blessed if their answer sees the light within only six or nine months.
Bernstein has used this technique with great success in the past, and the most
talked about example before his JMH effort, is arguably his treatment of
Rufus Miles Jr. of Princeton in footnote 2 of "A Postwar Myth: 500,000 Lives
Saved."(3) Bernstein's indirect criticisms of my casualties piece targets
positions that Ferrell and I hold in common, which are part of Ferrell's
analysis of what he believes is most important for a general readership to
understand about Truman's decision to use the atom bombs. Bernstein's direct
criticisms are confined to two footnotes, 10 and 16, and I believe they provide
more insight into Bernstein himself than he intends. Excerpts follow. All
italics are those of Bernstein:
10. . . . Careful readers of
Giangreco, "Casualty Projections for the U.S. Invasions of Japan," will discover
that he does not cite a single document that, in his 61 pages and 187 footnotes,
fit these criteria [from text: "No scholar has been able to find any
high-level supporting archival documents from the Truman months
before Hiroshima that, in unalloyed form, provides even an explicit estimate of
500,000 casualties, let alone a million or more"]. Despite my repeated written
and phone requests to Giangreco starting in mid-January and continuing through
late May 1998 that he send me, and mark the appropriate section of, a few JCS
924 documents after JCS 92/2 and through 924/15 to substantiate his claims about
the steady continuation of the "Saipan ratio" for U.S. casualties in the 924
series, Giangreco has failed to provide even one such corroborating
document to support his very questionable claims. In fact, as the actual
archival documents reveal, he has actually misreported the contents of at
least eight JCS 924s after 924/2, and thus important parts of his argument
collapse. Indeed, the only government document from the four Truman months
before Hiroshima that Giangreco cites in his article with actually an explicit
number of over a million is by War Department consultant William B. Shockley,
who certainly was not a high-level official in summer 1945. It is questionable
whether Stimson ever saw Shockley's mid-July 1945 report. For powerful evidence
of Shockley's minor position, see William Shockley Papers, Stanford University,
Stanford, California. On Shockley's report, for a different view, see Robert
[P.] Newman, "Hiroshima and the Trashing of Henry Stimson," New England
Quarterly 71 (March 1998), provided in galleys by Newman.
16. . . . Strangely, Giangreco in his strained effort to defend Truman's
casualty recollections, rebukes another scholar for mistrusting Truman's
half-million fatality claim, but Giangreco avoids making an explicit
argument defending Truman's half-million claim, misrepresents at least one
critique of that claim, and then acknowledges, perhaps obliquely, that Truman's
half-million dead claim was "exaggerated." For both confusion and intellectual
sloppiness, see Giangreco, "Casualty Projections," 521-22, 574. His deeply
flawed essay, which is probably uncritically accepted by many, may merit a very
sustained critical analysis.
I have "misreported the contents of at least
eight [Bernstein's italics] JCS 924s after 924/2"? Shades of
"I-have-in-my-hand-I-have-the-names-of-205-known-Communists." Putting aside the
temptation to comment on the somewhat overheated nature of Bernstein's rhetoric,
I must confess to being puzzled. Try as I might, I've had a devil of a time
locating where I said some of the things Bernstein generously points out to
readers. For example, even with the help of my trusty laptop's word-search
function, I failed to find where I said that Truman "exaggerated' when he used
the half-million figure. I did find where I noted that "the language in Truman's
memoir is conversational in tone with a strong rhetorical flavor." But, gee,
that doesn't seem to be saying the same thing at all. Obviously, I did not give
Bernstein permission to put words in my mouth! He also dismisses the importance
of Ed Drea's findings on the skyrocketing Japanese troop buildup on Kyushu(4) in
the body of the essay and, in footnote 10, refers readers to Newman's superb
article, "Hiroshima and the Trashing of Henry Stimson," for a purportedly
"different view" of the Shockley report than was given in my "Casualty
Projections." A little background on the report and the context in which it was
produced might be useful.
The 1945 report of Nobel laureate Dr. William B.
Shockley (which also incorporated an analysis by noted military analyst and
historian Dr. Quincy Wright) was produced as part of Secretary of War Henry L.
Stimson's effort to take a fresh look at Army Ground Forces manpower and
training requirements for the duration of the war against Japan. At that time,
the upcoming series of bloody ground operations on Japanese soil were envisioned
to last almost into 1947. Shockley was given full access to key intelligence and
planning personnel as well as highly classified Pentagon manpower/casualties
data including the top-secret analyses of escalating US troop losses produced by
Dr. Michael DeBakey and Dr. Gilbert W. Beebe (who were both in uniform then).
The crux of the problem facing Stimson in May 1945
had to do with the casualty ratios emerging from Okinawa which, if duplicated in
Japan's Home Islands, threatened to outstrip the carefully constructed
replacement stream for troop losses projected through the end of 1946.
Secretary Stimson, in conjunction with Army Chief
of Staff George C. Marshall, and then Director of the Office of War Mobilization
James F. Byrnes, had worked out a whopping 40 percent increase in the US Army's
Selective Service callups at the exact time that numbers were being crunched
within the Army to ensure that the criteria for a partial demobilization of
troops in Europe would not be so drastic as to harm further operations against
Japan. By May 1945 the politically painful Selective Service increase had been
under way for several months, and the administration was now publicly
committed to a massive demobilization. However, when the emerging ratio from the
fighting on Okinawa was extrapolated against the force strength resulting from
the increased callups and concurrent demobilization, it was apparent that the
Army was in danger of finding itself in a "manpower box" in which its
100,000-man-per-month replacement stream would fall far short of combat needs
during Operation Coronet in 1946.(5) The year before, in May 1944, Stimson
repeatedly fretted over the lack of manpower being committed to the upcoming
invasion of France and stated that Marshall "takes quite a different view -- a
more optimistic view on some things that I think are rather dangerous." He did
not raise his concerns with President Roosevelt because he did not want "to make
an appearance of an issue with Marshall" who he was in fundamental agreement
with on so many issues.(6) But, as events in December 1944-January 1945 later
proved, Stimson had been absolutely correct.
By May 1945 Stimson was again concerned with the
developing casualties question, but this time, he specifically wanted
civilian personnel not connected to the Army Ground Forces (AGF) to
be called in for a reexamination of manpower "requirements" for what the
Secretary of War and Army Chief of Staff believed would be a more brutal
slugfest than the war in Europe, largely because of the terrain and the
character of the Japanese soldier. The appearance before Congress of both
Marshall and Stimson, testifying separately, went off the record when they
discussed this highly charged problem, and private discussions of the matter
with legislators at the Pentagon were not recorded. Only many years later did
references to what was discussed surface in other Congressional testimony.(7)
The one portion of Stimson's initiative with a semblance of visibility was that
of Dr. E. P. Learned and Dr. Dan T. Smith, who were pulled in from General Hap
Arnold's Air Force staff.(8) As for Shockley, he was "on loan" from the Navy,
where he served as director of research for the Antisubmarine Warfare Operations
Beyond the officially stated reason for its
formation, the Learned-Smith Committee was created as a backstop to answer
anticipated public -- meaning Congressional -- inquiries into the need for
continued high Selective Service call-up rates and the possibility that
deferments might be squeezed even further. Other efforts, like that of Dr.
Shockley's, were geared to helping frame further discussion. The sudden end of
the war eliminated the need for these taskings before Stimson may have
seen any or all of them, but it is important to remember that the Secretary of
War himself initiated the reexamination.
Using analytical techniques that Newman describes
as displaying "the social 'scientist' mind in its purest form," Shockley's
initial report was not submitted to Stimson's assistant, Dr. Edward L. Bowles,
until after Stimson had left for Potsdam. In it, he proposed that a study be
initiated "to determine to what extent the behavior of a nation in war can be
predicted from the behavior of her troops in individual battles." Shockley said:
"If the study shows that the behavior of nations in all historical cases
comparable to Japan's has in fact been invariably consistent with the behavior
of the troops in battle, then it means that the Japanese dead and ineffectives
at the time of the defeat will exceed the corresponding number for the Germans.
In other words, we shall probably have to kill at least 5 to 10 million
Japanese. This might cost us between 1.7 and 4 million casualties including
400,000 and 800,000 killed."(9) As for the Learned-Smith Committee, it was given
full cooperation by AGF. When its report was made available in late June, AGF
found itself in general agreement and was relieved to find that the committee
agreed with the current Army policy of producing replacements "against maximum
requirements rather than against continually revised estimates of minimum
Having discussed this matter in some depth with
Dr. Newman, the only significant difference of opinion I can detect is that
while he believes that logic dictates that Stimson must have received
this report from the highly regarded Bowles in the two weeks between his return
from Potsdam and the dropping of the first atom bomb, I note that,
unfortunately, there is no way to prove such a thing to skeptics who have little
or no idea how Stimson conducted business. I maintain and reiterate, however,
that whether or not Stimson actually saw the document, the fact that he was so
concerned about the manpower question that he instigated the multifaceted
reexamination completely supports Newman's position. This "different view" is so
minor as to hardly warrant being mentioned. I also believe Newman to be
fundamentally correct in his contention that "Stimson's claim to have been told
that the invasion might cost over a million casualties was not a postwar
invention. It came from his staff," and that like his analysis of the US
Strategic Bombing Survey of Japan, Newman's discovery of the War Department
paper by Shockley and Wright(11) is of major significance. I have eagerly -- and
frequently -- stated so in this journal and other venues since publication of
his Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, where both the USSBS analysis and the
Shockley-Wright paper are presented.(12)
Bernstein informs readers of his irritation that I
have not supplied documents for use in his essay. What he neglects to mention is
that he has flooded my office with a minimum of 87 -- that's eighty-seven
-- letters and phone calls since 2 February 1996 requesting, then eventually
demanding, that I share my research with him -- and even provide him with the
peer reviews of "Casualty Projections"(13) -- with 68 arriving after JMH's
publication of the article in July 1997.(14) His essay in the July 1998 edition
specifically complains that I have failed to share the JCS924 series,
Operations Against Japan Subsequent to Formosa, with him -- documents that
are readily available from the National Archives as well as a variety of other
General Services Administration and US Army facilities. I hesitate to take up
valuable space in the journal answering petty charges of this sort, but since
they have been published, two points need to be made.
Point 1: In answer to specific questions Bernstein
asked of me from March through May of 1996, I produced, in the spirit of
camaraderie, several lengthy commentaries from which I never received an iota of
dialogue in response, only small talk and more questions. This was an extremely
unsatisfactory use of my time but, over the next few months, I continued to send
an occasional brief response to his queries in an effort to be polite and
because I actually felt rather sorry for him since he, unfortunately, seemed
quite confused about the documents he rushed into print with some years earlier
relating to casualty estimates, and he seemed even more bewildered about how
they were connected to each other and to earlier documents/decisions. After
publication of my "Casualty Projections," when the truly stunning second round
of questions and document requests started flying in, I laboriously dug out a
buried item or two at a time from the article, which had been written the year
before, and answered what I could (I do, after all, have other obligations).
Remarkably, Bernstein would offer at best a cursory "thanks" then get somewhat
intemperate because I hadn't responded as quickly as he believed I should.
Moreover, as soon as the second-round requests were largely fulfilled, a
third round of just-one-more requests was initiated. When these were
combined with requests for documents he earlier acknowledged getting and then
claimed never to have received; complaints that I had sent a document he had not
asked for when he specifically had asked for it in his letters; and his
expression of displeasure that I hadn't cleared my article with him first; etc.,
his communications became tedious and onerous, and my efforts to keep up with
his requests stopped.
of items requested during the third round of letters included the aforementioned
"documents after JCS924/2 and though 924/15," which I specifically stated in
September and December 1997 that I had read when I was conducting military
government studies in the early 1980s and did not possess. Bernstein even
acknowledged that I had told him this in one of his letters.(15) I erred,
however, by saying that I would try to run down some copies for him when I got
time. What followed was a situation somewhat analogous to a humorous parable by
that astute commentator on working relationships, Scott Adams: The scene opens
with a coworker approaching Dilbert at his desk. "Thanks for agreeing to work on
my project." "I never agreed to work on your project." "You can't change your
mind now! It's too late to get someone else!" "Um . . . I'm not changing my
mind. I clearly said I would not work on your project." "You lying weasel! I'll
ruin you!!" "Okay! Okay! I'll work on your project!" The final scene shows the
coworker approaching yet another colleague: "Thanks for agreeing to donate your
computer to my project."(16)
Point 2: What is one to make of Bernstein saying
that his requests were made through "late May" when he was still writing as late
as 15 June 1998, for a stated 18 June deadline? In addition, the first hint that
he wanted the documents for an article was not made until his letter of 12 May
(postmarked 15 May) when he said that they were "essential for my own deadline
on this particular set of galleys" (what galleys?) and implied, through
phraseology clearly structured for future case-building, that he had told me all
about his essay: "But as I said on Friday, May 8th . . . ." In fact, Bernstein
requested documents related to a completely different question in that call.
There is obviously a tangled web of some sort being weaved here, but one
hesitates to move too close in an effort to find out just what it is.
Bernstein also failed to make clear to readers
exactly what he was talking about in his statement about the "at least eight
JCS924s after 924/2," but, as noted, his interest in JCS924/2 centers on what he
commonly refers to in his letters as the "so called" Saipan ratio.(17) And if
his explanation of what he desired seems a little fuzzy to readers, the request
in his letter of 12 May only deepens the mystery. In the letter, he asks that I
provide the later annexes in order to "corroborate part of your contention on
pages 535-38 about the continuation of the 'Saipan ratio' appearing in every
[Bernstein's underline] 924 after 924/2 and through 924/15.
These comments accomplish the feat of being both
perplexing and enlightening at the same time. Perplexing because what the
text actually said was simply that the JCS924 series was used "through the
spring of 1945 . . . as the primary outline for the series of campaigns
culminating on Japan's soil" and gave the date of the last annex I'd come
across, 25 April 1945, in a footnote. The comments are Enlightening for
what they reveal about the level of Bernstein's scholarship.
Bernstein insists that, to be relevant, the Saipan
ratio must appear in annexes subsequent to JCS924/2 -- that the JCS924
series must present dataa in a form that is not germane to such documents. If
the document does not fit his artificial criteria, he contends that it most
certainly couldn't have had an impact on the thinking of senior planners. In
advancing such a proposition, Bernstein displays an inexplicable lack of
knowledge of just how Army documents of this kind were constructed. After
discoursing with confidence and authority on this subject for so many years, how
is it that he does not know that annexes simply contain directed changes,
modified text, or exchanges of memos commenting on the text of the original
document or proposed revisions?
The production of planning documents is a dynamic
process. Extremely few annexes produced within the Army's Operations Division (OPD)
actually contain complete drafts, and only rarely do they culminate in a
complete annex such as JCS1388/4, Details of the Campaign Against Japan,
a document that was specifically prepared for President Truman's use at Potsdam.
Requirements change, and work on a given plan or idea could be unceremoniously
terminated in midstream or simply fizzle out with the working document shuffled
off to the side if it was superseded (as the 924 series was) by more timely or
relevant products, and eventually, as Douglas MacArthur mused, hauled off to "be
filed in the dusty pigeon holes of the War Department."(18) In short, unless a
particular piece of text is specifically ordered deleted, it remains for
inclusion in any final version that may or may not ever be produced.
In any event, these technical points are
comparatively minor when compared to the more fundamental problem displayed
here, because while Operations Against Japan Subsequent to Formosa did
indeed provide an extremely useful outline for planners long after its name
-- but not its content -- was rendered obsolete by the rush of events,
the document's importance to the casualties question has to do with both the
timing of its estimate of massive US casualties and the credibility that the
senior Army leadership attached to it. The fact that the official history of the
OPD signals out JCS924 as a pivotal document(19) and that Army Chief of Staff
George C. Marshall was personally using the ratio during the late 1944
time frame in which he had to make hard decisions concerning both the timing and
size of the increased Selective Service inductions for the invasion of Japan(20)
are not factors that Bernstein feels readers need to concern themselves.
This is no small matter and reaches to the heart
of Bernstein's confusion in this area. Bernstein states, quite correctly in his
JMH essay, that "it is highly questionable . . . that an analyst can
fully or even adequately, understand the August 1945 use of the atomic bombs on
Japan by starting with the Truman period, neglecting the Roosevelt
administration's decisions, and thus focusing only on Truman-period documents."
Unfortunately, Bernstein fails to see the need to follow his own advice, and
this inextricably leads him into dark waters. Bernstein repeatedly, and again
correctly, trumpets the fact that I fail to "cite a single document in [my] 61
pages and 187 footnotes . . . from the Truman months [Bernstein's
italics] before Hiroshima" which provide "even an explicit [my italics]
estimate of 500,000 casualties, let alone a million or more." Undeniably this is
so -- and also irrelevant. This is discussed in some detail in "Casualty
Projections," and, prophetically, was summarized by me when addressing the SMH
conference in April:
It had long been apparent
that while some critics of President Truman's decision to drop the atom bomb
have encouraged a close look at decisions of the Roosevelt Administration as
well, study of military planning prior to the Truman presidency was
confidently thought to be irrelevant. By focusing solely on the highly qualified
-- and limited -- casualty projections in a variety of briefing documents
produced in the months immediately before Hiroshima, they had missed the fact
that, by that point, the horses had long-since bolted. Months before
Truman became President, military and civilian leaders had come to the
conclusion that the need for replacements would be tremendous, and Selective
Service call-ups for Army Ground Forces alone were nearly doubled
by March 1945 in order to have men trained and in the pipeline for a six-figure
replacement stream each and every month once the invasion of Japan
Bernstein's rash statements indicate that his
understanding of primary source documents and the context in which they were
created is so deficient that even if I had spent the additional time to locate
even more documents for him -- and had succumbed to his soothing request for my
peer reviews in order that he might "understand more fully . . . the strongly
felt hostility to the earlier casualty estimates"(22) -- it is doubtful he would
comprehend or be able to use accurately what he was receiving.
But lest one think that only my work is singled
out as a source of discomfort for Bernstein, he is also most unhappy with
Ferrell's compact treatment of this subject in Truman and the Bomb. To
begin with, Ferrell is characterized as "a noted Truman scholar," a description
which coyly casts him into the pack and denigrates his true position. In fact,
while others are better known to the public at large, Ferrell is almost
uniformly regarded within the academy as the premier Truman scholar. Over
the past 20 years, Ferrell has authored, coauthored or edited innumerable books
and articles on Truman, his contemporaries and the times in which they
lived.(23) After decades pouring over Truman's papers, Ferrell has absorbed more
of his words and thoughts than any living American. The man knows Truman
preeminently. Bernstein, on the other hand (and in spite of his implication at
the beginning of the essay), has actually spent little time at the Truman
Library -- certainly a fraction of what either Ferrell or myself have. But what
is perhaps most intriguing about this is that Bernstein assumes that enough of
the JMH readership does not know of Ferrell's great body of work in this
area that such a pointed understatement would go largely unnoticed and would
thus effectively frame his analysis of Ferrell's book and my article. Bernstein
thinks little of military historians and says so, for after opining on the
"confusion and intellectual sloppiness" of my "deeply flawed essay," he contends
that it is "probably uncritically accepted" by readers. As for the Society for
Military History's awards committee, now that they have demonstrated that they
clearly lack Bernstein's powers of perception by awarding a Moncado Prize for my
"Casualty Projections," they will just have to find a way to struggle along
under the weight of his admonition that they failed to meet his standards for
"careful readers." Bernstein poses one additional bit of irony though, he notes
that the casualties piece "may merit a very sustained critical analysis."
Ironically, one scholar is apparently doing just such an examination -- of
Bernstein's own work -- on the casualties question.
Bernstein's surface familiarity with the military
historiography of this subject leads him to make unfounded criticisms of
Ferrell's choices of what is important to emphasize. One example of this has to
do with the matter of preinvasion casualty estimates. According to Bernstein,
Ferrell "sometimes" handles the casualties question in a manner in which he
approves, and then states his befuddlement that Ferrell "curiously does not deal
explicitly with the numbers [of Japanese troops] on southern Kyushu
[Bernstein's italics]." And why should Ferrell? The figure for southern Kyushu
and other strength estimates were included in the 29 July 1945 intelligence
report only as a snapshot of where Japanese troops were located fully three
months before the first invasion, Operation Olympic, was to commence. As
everyone reading the intelligence report well knew -- and the report
specifically stated -- this was part of an ongoing Japanese buildup "with no end
in sight."(24) Likewise, everyone reading the report was fully conversant with
such basic concepts as operational depth and did not labor under the bizarre
assumption that the Japanese were somehow obligated to keep the substantial
forces they were simultaneously gathering in northern Kyushu away from the US
invasion zone in the south.
Another example of Bernstein's weakness in this
area is his mischaracterization of what was understood by senior leaders as the
difference between military and civilian targets. Returning to a theme he has
repeated often, Bernstein states that "Truman after the war normally referred to
the two A-bombed cities incorrectly, as exclusively or almost entirely
'military' targets. The targets were, in fact, mostly noncombatants." First of
all, the presence of civilians working in or living adjacent to a
military-industrial complex does not make the site a civilian target. This was
-- and still is -- a complex subject made even more difficult for Stimson in
particular because, unlike in Germany where the US Army Air Force maintained a
costly policy of daylight precision bombing instead of Britain's nighttime area
bombing, the highly decentralized nature of Japanese industry eventually forced
the XXI Bomber Command in the Marianas to grudgingly abandon precision bombing
except on clearly identified targets. In any event, well before the Air Force
was forced to resort to area bombing with incendiaries, all understood that the
"precision" in precision bombing was more a desired end than an actual
description, and that many -- and in some cases most -- 500-lb. projectiles
dropped through five miles of crosswinds from an aircraft traveling at over 300
mph are inevitably going to miss their targets and kill a very large number of
civilians. Bernstein implies that the continued mass use of conventional bombs
would have somehow produced civilians who are less dead and fewer in number than
those killed by atom bombs.
THE NON-DISCOVERY OF THE LEAHY
Bernstein also does not shy away from misinforming
readers as to what Ferrell actually said in his book. This happens frequently
and one of the more obvious examples is the assertion that Truman claimed to
have "held a high-level decision making meeting with his military chiefs, Stimson
and Byrnes, before Hiroshima about whether or not to use the [atom bomb], but
the indirect evidence is overwhelming, as Ferrell acknowledges, that such a
meeting never occurred." If there was ever a time to take heed of Eisenhower's
statement that "no daily schedule of appointments can give a full timetable --
or even a faint indication -- of the President's responsibilities,"(25) this is
it. Ferrell's book was written prior to publication of my casualties piece in
JMH, which outlined in some detail the documentary evidence that a
post-Trinity secret meeting did indeed take place, yet Ferrell had already seen
that there was enough material available to suggest that a meeting of some sort
had happened. Rather than leap to the conclusion that Truman had lied, what
Ferrell said was that "a formal meeting may not have occurred" [my
italics]. This is altogether different from what Bernstein asserts Ferrell said,
and it parallels the position that Bernstein held as recently as two years ago
when he wrote that it was "unlikely" that a "formal" meeting took place.(26)
This pointed repudiation of his own position --
when it is stated by someone else -- is not an isolated occurrence. As events at
the Smithsonian bear out, agreeing with Bernstein's interpretation of documents
is neither a guarantee of good relations with the professor or, in the case of
Martin Harwit, of future job security. In his book, An Exhibit Denied:
Lobbying the History of the Enola Gay, the former director of the
Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum relates his astonishment
during a similar incident:
We met with representatives
of [the Organization of American Historians] at 9:00 A.M. on November 17,
[1994,] in our conference room. Their primary purpose in meeting with the
curators and me was to protest changes made to the exhibition in response to
criticism by veterans' organizations. The delegation included Barton Bernstein,
of Stanford University, a member of the original exhibition committee.
We talked for two hours, Bernstein was vocal in calling my attention to a
grievous misinterpretation in our changed script. He claimed that the casualty
estimates for an invasion of Japan given in the text hammered out with the
American Legion . . . misrepresented Admiral Leahy's June 18, 1945, remarks to
President Truman. Bernstein claimed that Leahy's diary entry for that same day
stated he had meant that there would be 63,000 casualties -- far lower than the
"quarter of a million casualties" figure we had attributed to him in our revised
Bernstein told a reporter that he had challenged me on these figures, and added
that I was unable to refute him. That is quite true. The reason was simple. I
was dumbfounded! The figure of a quarter of a million had come from a paper that
Bernstein himself had written in 1986. So when he suddenly told me, in the
middle of a large meeting, that we had made a grave mistake, I did not know how
to respond. I was pretty sure we had based our numbers on his paper but on the
spur of the moment I could not swear to that. I don't recall Bernstein stating
that his article had been in error.(27)
In a letter to the American Legion on 9 January
1995, Harwit explained that Bernstein "took us to task" for misunderstanding
what he now said he meant in the article. Harwit noted that Bernstein "in the
meantime had found Leahy's diary entry"(28) and, on the basis of this
discovery, he had decided to modify the text yet again -- a modification
which now clearly implied deception on Truman's part. The rest, as they say, is
Ferrell is also taken to task for not finding
Bernstein's discovery to be worthy of inclusion in Truman and the Bomb.
Ferrell had several good reasons to exclude it, not the least of which is that
the 63,000 figure, reputed by Leahy to have come from Marshall, is inconclusive
as to what it actually represents. This is why military historians do not use it
and why I did not use it and a variety of other guesstimates in my JMH
piece (long before the Enola Gay controversy, it and guesstimates like it were
referred to within the hallowed halls of the US Army Command and General Staff
College [CGSC] as "junk numbers"). I do not mind so much that it is secondhand,
but knowing Admiral Leahy's unfamiliarity with Army methodologies used in
producing casualty estimates, the figure may or may not represent just one month
of combat in what was anticipated by Marshall to be an extremely lengthy
campaign. In any event, there were considerably better and more appropriately
documented estimates to run in my long and somewhat dense article. However, if I
had been aware during the article's production that Bernstein had been
successful at selling the number to Harwit and the Smithsonian as something it
was not, I would have made note of it in JMH.
There are several ways Leahy might have arrived at
the 63,000 figure, but Leahy's expression "would not cost us" represents
a guarantee that Marshall would not give to Leahy or Truman for all the
institutional reasons given in my casualties piece. I'm afraid that Bernstein is
going to have a tough time finding someone at the CGSC (and I suspect the Naval
War College and George C. Marshall Library as well) who believes that, even if
it did come from Marshall -- and is not just an interpretation of what Leahy
thought Marshall meant -- that the Army chief would characterize the number
as a ceiling which could not be exceeded.
So what does the 63,000 figure represent? Other
than a purely 30-day estimate for just the ground force losses there are
a couple possibilities:
First, Leahy had made it a point, during the 18
June 1945 meeting with the President, to note that just over one-third of the
ground forces employed on Okinawa had become casualties, and the number is
almost exactly one-third of a straight head count of the divisions landing at
Kyushu. If you exclude the very substantial nondivisional combat units and the
service and support units and take a snapshot of the TOE on X-Day (13 divisions
and 2 regimental combat teams), you get 190,000 men, and a third of that is your
63,000. Unfortunately, over the course of about three or four months of heavy
ground fighting, these units would functionally turn themselves over (100
percent casualties on paper) with the line regiments -- what the Brits call
"poor bloody infantry" -- turning over at two and possibly even three times that
rate like they had at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, San Pietro, Normandy's hedgerows, the
Hürtgen Forest, etc. As noted in a July 1950 manpower piece in Military
Review, "It was not a question of whether [an infantryman] would become a
casualty, but rather of when and how."(29)
Second, an apparently old joke that I'd heard
twice from instructors at the CGSC's Department of Combat Support in 1985(30)
and repeated at least once before the Smithsonian imbroglio was that Leahy had
just doubled the Luzon number of 31,000 casualties from the 18 June meeting
because of the stated 2-1 Okinawa ratio. The joke goes that Leahy added "a
thousand more bodies to be safe," and put it in his diary as his best
guess as to what he thought Marshall meant. (Logistician humor; I guess
you just had to be there.)
Virtually every serious military historian who
works in the World War II-Cold War period is aware of Leahy's comment through
its use in his widely read autobiography, I Was There, (31) yet discard
it as too vague to be useful. This should have raised warning flags as to the
credibility that specialists in this field attach to it. But Bernstein
apparently did not notice the danger signs because, in spite of the long lists
of books and archives he unscrolls in his essay, he is only vaguely familiar
with military aspects of the subject and its literature. He either did not
notice the flashing red lights or is convinced that he possesses a superior
understanding. And irrespective of the fact that Bernstein does not have a clear
idea where Leahy fits into the picture (students of the period will be surprised
to find that the president's chief of staff at the White House has been promoted
by Bernstein to the position of "wartime chairman of the Joint Chiefs"), it is
still impossible to believe that he could have missed Leahy's use of the number
in a book that Bernstein himself quotes from. Characterizing it as a
discovery to Harwit certainly leaves the impression that Bernstein was
taking unfair advantage of Harwit's lack of knowledge of military
Use of Leahy's 63,000 figure may have started out
as simply a rhetorical device intended to shock Harwit into rejecting the
criticisms of veterans groups -- and who would be the wiser? The group of
professors pressing Harwit to show some backbone in his dealings with the
veterans were as untutored in this area as the museum director and operated
within a back channel well hidden from public view. How was Bernstein to know
that Harwit would later write a well-received book(32) that would signal him out
as the individual who forcefully and successfully pressed for acceptance of
Leahy's vague number in the Enola Gay script -- a change which led directly to
Harwit's exit from the National Air and Space Museum. Throughout the sorry
episode, Bernstein moved from Smithsonian consultant, to critic, and finally to
active participant in a short-lived organization he helped found: Historians for
Open Debate on Hiroshima.
Bernstein's successful promotion of the idea,
repeated in his essay, that "it is highly unlikely that Marshall in June 
assumed even up to 100,000 U.S. casualties in Olympic" had far-reaching
consequences during the late unpleasantness over the Enola Gay exhibit, but it
is also amazing that Harwit apparently didn't contact any of the military
specialists working with the Smithsonian in order to get their thoughts on what
the 63,000 number actually represented before using it as the basis for a
ratcheting down of expected invasion casualties in the exhibit. If he did,
neither he nor they ever mentioned it in print.(33) But while it is evident that
Harwit was certainly led down a treacherous path, the nearly two full months
between Bernstein's bombshell at the November 17 meeting and the 9 January
American Legion letter have left the impression that he went perhaps a little
too willingly. We will never know how events would have unfolded if, soon after
the meeting, Harwit had learned that Bernstein's earth-shaking discovery in
Leahy's diary had, in fact, been printed verbatim in the admiral's widely read
book -- and one which Bernstein quotes from!
TRUMAN'S DIARY AND MEMOIRS
Bernstein's selective use of quotes from Truman's
diary is unfortunate, since he pointedly ignores quotes that are inconsistent
with his own thesis. He also uses up a good deal of space on what he views as
Truman's agonizing-over-Hiroshima decision and self-deception over the cost in
civilian lives of using the atom bombs.
Various authors have produced enough Brodie-esque
psychobabble on how Truman felt about the bomb to fill a fat volume of its own,
and Bernstein, who has written extensively in this area of speculation, is happy
to share his thoughts with JMH readers. In fact, much of the last half of
his essay revolves -- truly revolves -- around this question, as
Bernstein strenuously attempts to come to grips with what is not at all
complicated. For example, he quotes Leahy from I Was There as saying that
"in being the first to use [atom bombs], we had adopted an ethical standard
common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages" and maintains that "Truman should
have regarded Leahy's harsh words as an act of betrayal, and the President also
should have been troubled, if not offended, by the anti-Hiroshima claims of
Arnold, King, MacArthur and Eisenhower. Strangely, there is no record of
Truman's responses." Why should this be so "strange"? As a long-time politician,
Truman was more than a little familiar with colleagues attempting to cover both
sides of an issue -- especially when the issue centered around events that had
passed and which their current statements would have no effect on. Moreover,
nothing that these gentlemen are characterized to have said differs greatly from
what Truman was told by Secretary of War Stimson,(34) Under Secretary of the
Navy Ralph A. Bard,(35) and possibly others before the bombs were used or
what Truman said in a variety of other venues himself -- one of which Bernstein
Any humane person would be uneasy about using
weapons of mass destruction. Truman was no exception. He naturally avoided
specific references to the destruction and may have even used rationalizations
to soothe his own sensitivity to the use of atom bombs; yet, on other occasions,
he was quite clear about the dangers of the nuclear age. Truman knew that
extreme, punishing violence was the only thing that would end the war with
Japan, and he chose the quickest(36) and safest (for American lives) expedient,
which was the atom bomb. This probably saved lives on both sides in the
end; yet, at the time, it was not even clear that the bombs themselves would
provide the shock effect necessary to stampede Japan's leadership into an early
The amateur psychoanalysis of the most
straight-forward man to occupy the White House this century has become almost as
much a cottage industry as Jefferson-bashing, and Bernstein is so befuddled by
Truman's simplicity that he hangs on even the slightest nuance to prove
inconsistency or ulterior motives. Witness Bernstein's comments on Truman's
postwar statements which, incidentally, he inadvertently prefaces through his
comments on my "strained effort to defend Truman's casualty recollections."
Altogether Bernstein lists four postwar occasions in which Truman used the
figure 250,000, most of which originated in transcripts of recorded dialogue to
be used in his memoirs. Bernstein then labors over the nuances of descriptive
words: "lives," "men," and "casualties" to demonstrate that "no responsible
analyst should trust any particular recollection by Truman on this subject."
Well, maybe an "analyst" can not, but a historian will certainly note a clear
pattern here -- 250,000. The belts from Truman's Dictaphone no longer exist, so
the accuracy of the transcriptions cannot be verified, but in the one item that
survives in Truman's own hand, the original text of the letter to Dr. James L.
Cate, the word "minimum" is certainly connected to the quarter million figure,
and he makes no reference to any maximum.
Actually, Truman's "recollections" are hardly
touched on in my article for the simple reason that the piece is specifically on
the US Army's projections, and I even state that Truman's "recollection"
that Marshall informed him casualties "might" exceed one million men
(functionally the same number as what was suffered to defeat Germany) "is
somewhat beside the point, since what Marshall is reputed to have said at
Potsdam was in line with current Army thinking and the long-implemented manpower
policy of 1945."(37)
That the estimates in the Cate letter of "a
minimum of one quarter million casualties, and might cost as much as a million,"
represent an extremely wide spread should not surprise anyone. When dealing with
the imponderables of planning out a series of campaigns over a period of years,
strategic, as opposed to logistic, planners have been known to fall back on a
tongue-in-cheek -- and completely unauthorized -- acronym, SBN for Some Big
Number, to describe total losses at a culminating point where a force no longer
has the ability to continue fighting. This happens because, as Brigadier General
Huba Wass de Czege points out, "Obviously, the further into the future one tries
to plan, the less certainty there will be."(38) This is, and was, one of the
most fundamental axioms of military planning, yet such numbers can look
startlingly large to someone not involved in the planning process.
They must have certainly looked so to presidential
assistant David Lloyd, who had been given the task of refining Truman's original
draft. Bernstein recounts Lloyd writing that the Truman recollection of 250,000
casualties "sounds more reasonable than Stimson's" that casualties "might exceed
one million men."(39) This is all well and good, but since when do the
perceptions of a junior aide, who sat in on no meetings between Truman with
either Marshall or Stimson, outweigh those of a man of Stimson's stature and
position to know the facts? Likewise, when Bernstein says that Stimson's "claim
was very dubious," he buttresses this statement by saying that McGeorge Bundy
"tactfully acknowledges this problem." Unfortunately, Bundy's tactful
acknowledgment in his 1988 book Danger and Survival is limited to the
hopelessly vague statement that "defenders of the use of the bomb, Stimson among
them, were not always careful about numbers of casualties expected."(40) It was
not long ago that Bernstein refused to entertain any statement or document that
was produced after the period under examination. How is it that such an item,
produced decades after the fact, is now displayed as an authoritative source to
prove Truman and Stimson's duplicity?
Over time, as more and more government documents
on casualty estimates have become available, Bernstein has found that he must
change the criteria for what he will accept as casualty estimates large enough
to supply moral justification for use of the atom bombs. Thus, anyone getting
ready to kick a football through the goal posts he erected in "A Postwar Myth:
500,000 Lives Saved" would have to contend with the fact that the goal posts had
apparently grown prodigiously in height after its publication! In "A Postwar
Myth," his incomplete understanding of the documents he cites leads him to the
conclusion that American "leaders" believed there would be "maybe only 'tens of
thousands' " of deaths -- specifically "between about 20,000 and 46,000" --
which implies between about 100,000 to 250,000 casualties among the ground
forces.(41) However, by the time of his "The Struggle over History: Defining the
Hiroshima Narrative,"(42) Truman would have had to have "thought that American
casualties would be astronomical," a term that lacks specificity but possibly
implies the half million benchmark he commonly uses. After the flood of data
presented in "Casualty Projections," he discovered that the towering goal post
was not enough and that stringing a few nets between the bars would be
In "Casualty Projections," I stated that previous
researchers had missed nearly all of the copious data relating to this subject
because they lacked knowledge of basic Army methodologies and procedures. It was
noted that "casualty projections were seldom directly listed as such or carried
convenient titles like 'Estimated Losses for Operation X,' but were obliquely
stated in terms of 'requirements' for manpower, or have to be extrapolated,
using contemporary formula, from stated medical needs." This was a most
unsatisfactory development for Bernstein, and in his JMH essay, he warns
that now he will not accept data unless it is from: a) "high-level
archival documents"; b) "the Truman months"; and c) from "before
Hiroshima" -- which neatly sidesteps Marshall's 10 August 1945 memo prepared for
Leahy.(43) In addition, he rejects the Army's use of ratios and demands that
Army data: d) be presented "in unalloyed form"; and e) present "an explicit
estimate" or hard number, which was, of course, not done for the "high level"
material he demands.
Looking over this new criteria, one might wonder
if Bernstein is a charter member of the Flat Earth Society, but no matter. It is
certainly true that Bernstein can establish any set of criteria he so desires;
yet if he wants to have his work taken seriously by military historians, he must
show some appreciation of how the US Army actually did business in the 1940s
and, to a very real degree, today as well, and his criteria must be relevant and
workable. As to his advocacy of "counterfactual analysis" and "consideration of
alternative pasts," Dr. Robert J. Maddox once noted that "individuals who
routinely use counterfactuals themselves often use the phrase to condemn the
work of others. For instance, those who say that Japanese artillery would have
been virtually useless against American armor, or that typhoons would not have
been all that destructive are also engaging in counterfactuals."(44)
Like Monday-morning quarterbacking, constructing
counterfactuals is certainly great entertainment, but it is far less productive
than examining the projected, or profactuals -- the many variables and
unknowables that military leaders and planners at that time had to
consider when planning ahead for the effects of weather, opposition,
logistics, etc. This must not be confused with counterfactual analysis and is
exactly what staffs (American and Japanese) were (are) paid to do. In
either case, though, how valuable such exercises are depends upon how well they
fit the known facts, and as Larry Bland reminds us: "The problem of systemic
bias . . . is akin to the fate that overtakes the ship whose navigator sets out
from San Francisco for Japan and makes course corrections that are constantly
off one degree to port: in the long run, he'll end up in the Philippines."(45)
ROUSSEAU OR MONBODDO?
What is one to make of Bernstein's rash comments
on JCS 924; the misquote from my casualties piece; the production of a review
essay that is functionally longer than the book it is written on; the similarity
between his treatment of Ferrell and the cowing of Harwit at the Smithsonian;
and the troubling questions raised by his repeated drawing of overly ambitious
generalizations from narrow pieces of evidence? Is he Rousseau or Monboddo?(46)
At the recent SMH conference, I exchanged views on the current state of affairs
with members and perhaps a half dozen specifically brought up Bernstein. While
the words "charlatan" and "vampire" were used in connection with the professor,
the term heard most often was "crackpot."
These assessments seem overly harsh to me, and I
suggest that he is really just a misguided scholar completely and irretrievably
out of his element when discussing things related to the military. Moreover, if
he is a crackpot, it must be appreciated that he is a crackpot who has had a
significant, if little known, effect on the public discourse of late. After
having been signaled out by Harwit as the individual who forcefully and
successfully pressed the National Air and Space Museum for acceptance of Leahy's
"junk number" in the Enola Gay script, Bernstein may be concerned with how
history will view his role in the Smithsonian fiasco. Moreover, it must come as
a great disappointment that positions he had carefully developed and promoted
for over two decades are essentially ignored by someone of Ferrell's
stature,(47) and the unmistakable odor of sour grapes rises from Bernstein's
conclusion that "despite [Ferrell's] hopes, [his book] is not likely to change
attitudes, even if it is widely read, which is unlikely." In fact, Robert
Ferrell, no stranger to the 500-plus-page megawork, has put together a slim,
useful, Internet-friendly compilation of key documents that, thanks to his
extremely well-crafted headnotes and the brevity of the total package will be of
immense value in both high school and college classrooms.
One can sympathize with Bernstein's frustration
and bewilderment, but genuine sympathy hardly requires acceptance of theories
that ignore any primary source material that fails to fit the artificial
parameters which he has repeatedly narrowed and redefined over time. Bernstein
frequently states that he is only trying to better understand the positions
advocated by military historians -- hardly something that can claim to be
monolithic in nature -- yet when one knows that numerous SMH members have given
generously of their time to his queries only to have their comments ignored or
misrepresented, one can be excused if his claims to be a simple, earnest seeker
of truth are held suspect. What is important to understand is that Bernstein
really does not care if readers of JMH accept his arguments or not, and
that the journals in which he has discoursed so provocatively on military
matters in the past did not, for the most part, have readerships who would
notice when he started to go over the edge. John Keegan once noted that "the
military historian [has a] specialized ability to check for veracity and
probability,"(48) so whether Bernstein failed to publish in military journals
through specific avoidance or simple oversight, his work went largely
unscrutinized by a body of scholars whose feedback could well have gone a long
way towards helping him avoid the straits he has currently fallen into. Instead,
he continued to sail, as Bland put it, "off one degree to port," and his work
has became quite vulnerable to significant exception.
I suspect that the reason for Dr. Bernstein's
essay in JMH is less to convince SMH members of the soundness of his
theories than to receive a sort of military cachet for his work in order
to present to the academy an illusion of acceptance from the same military
historians he shunned in the past and still denigrates. If this seems
far-fetched, pull up "1997-'98 Faculty News from The Historian" in the
Stanford web site. Of all the articles he has produced in many years of writing
on Hiroshima-related topics, the item placed at the top of the list is his
single previous foray into a military journal, a discussion of "likely U.S.
casualties in the planned invasion of Japan" in the Spring 1996 Joint Force
Quarterly. Typically, he makes no mention of the fact that it is simply a
letter, unfettered by peer review, and makes no mention to readers of the web
site of the article his letter challenged, my "Operation Downfall: The Devil Was
In the Details"(49) or my response to his letter.(50) When the real Bernstein is
revealed, will he be Rousseau or Monboddo?
1. James Boswell, Life of Johnson, R.W.
Chapman, ed., (Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1970) 405.
2. Robert H. Ferrell, Harry S. Truman and the
Bomb: A Documentary History (Worland, Wyo.: High Plains Publishing, 1996).
3. Barton J. Bernstein, "A Postwar Myth: 500,000
Lives Saved," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June-July 1986: 38-40.
4. Edward J. Drea, MacArthur's Ultra:
Codebreaking in the War Against Japan,
1942-1945, (Lawrence, KS, University Press
of Kansas, 1992).
5. D. M. Giangreco, "Casualty Projections for the
U.S. Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications" Journal of
Military History (July 1997): 564-66, 574-75.
6. See Henry L Stimson diary entries of 10 and 16
May 1944 in Larry I. Bland, ed. The Papers of George Catlett
4, "Aggressive and Determined Leadership"
June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996): 450-51.
7. Hearings Before the Subcommittee on
Appropriations, House of Representatives, Seventy-Ninth Congress, First Session,
on the Military Establishment Appropriations Bill for 1946, conducted 25 May
1945, (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1945): 1-18. Aside from
his off-the-record testimony before the House Appropriations Committee during
discussion of the "inadvisability of war of attrition" and elsewhere, Marshall
discussed "the terrific losses which we would sustain when we invaded Japan"
before the House Military Affairs Committee. See the transcript of Charles E.
Bohlen's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2,
1953 in Charles E. Bohlen Witness to History: 1929-1969 (New York: W. W.
Norton & Company, 1973), 317.
8. Robert R. Palmer, Bell I. Wiley, and William R.
Keast The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops, The United States
Army in World War II, (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1948),
9. Robert P. Newman, Truman and the
(East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1995), 18-19.
10. Palmer The Procurement and Training of
Ground Combat Troops: 236-37. In terms applicable to today, it might be
argued that many historians, safely removed five decades from the events, are
"minimum needs" advocates.
11. An interesting side note: Dr. Quincy Wright,
who was not a spring chicken (he received his degree at the University of
Illinois in 1915), entered the Army very shortly after his collaboration with
Shockley; was given the rank of colonel; and served as a technical advisor to
the Nuremberg Tribunal.
12. D. M. Giangreco "Casualty Projections for the U.S.
Invasions of Japan: Planning and Policy Implications" Journal of Military
History (July 1997): 521-81; "To Bomb or Not to Bomb," Naval War College
Review (Spring 1898): 140-45; "Truman and the Hiroshima Cult," Naval
History, October 1995: 54-55; "Operation Downfall: US Plans and Japanese
Countermeasures," at the University of Kansas symposium Beyond Bushido:
Recent Work in Japanese Military History, February 16, 1998; "Dropping the
bomb on Japan: a-COUNT-ing for the Casualties" on the NET television program
Modern War, Washington, DC, December 12, 1997; letter, Journal of
American History (June 1997): 322-23; letter, Joint Force Quarterly
(Summer 1996): 6-7; and letter, New England Quarterly (September 1998). I
also engaged in a general discussion of his work in the the April 1998
American Historical Review, 663-64.
13. Dated 29 July 97 through 15 June 1998.
14. 24 November 1997.
15. 28 September 1997.
16. Scott Adams, Dilbert "Dogbert's First Law of
Business: Reality is Always Controlled by the People Who Are Most Insane,"
United Features Syndicate: June 14, 1998.
17. "In our Saipan operation, it cost
approximately one American killed and several wounded to exterminate seven
Japanese soldiers. On this basis it might cost us half a million American lives
and many times that number wounded . . . in the home islands." JCS 924/2,
Operations Against Japan Subsequent to
Formosa, 30 August 1944, 120.
18. William Manchester, American Caesar:
Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1978): 160.
19. Ray S. Cline The
Washington Command Post: The Operations Division, The
United States Army in World War II,
(Washington: Department of the Army, 1948), 337-38.
20. Larry I. Bland, (ed.) The Papers of George
(Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1996), vol. 4, 567-69.
21. Excepted from Giangreco at the 1998 Annual
Meeting of the Society for Military History, April 24, 1998.
22. 24 November 1997.
23. R. R. Browker lists fully 24 titles of
Ferrel's which are still in print, and this accounting doesn't even include such
key works as Dear Bess: The Letters from Harry to Bess Truman, 1910-1959
and Off the Record: The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman, which will
both soon be reissued. Books in Print: 1996-97, vols. 1-4 (New
Providence, New Jersey), 1996.
24. Amendment No. 1 to G-2 Estimate of the
Enemy Situation with Respect to Kyushu,
G-2, AFPAC, 29 July 1945.
25. From a radio and television address on 29
February 1956, Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956
(Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1956), 275.
26. From the original text of an 11 February 1996
letter to Joint Force Quarterly responding to my article "Operation
Downfall: The Devil Was in the Details." This and lengthy portions of the letter
not relating to what was actually said in the article were excised for space
when it was published.
27. Martin Harwit An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying
the History of the Enola Gay, (New York: Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, 1996),
28. Harwit, An Exhibit Denied, 380.
29. Lieutenant Colonel U. P. Williams, "They May
Not Die -- But They Wither Fast" Military Review (July 1950): 16.
30. The Department of Combat Support at the CGSC
has since changed its name to Department of Logistics and Resource Operations.
31. William D. Leahy, I Was There: The Personal
Story of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman Based on His
Notes and Diaries Made at the Time (New York: Whittlesey House, 1950), 384.
32. As late as 16 November 1997, the New York
Times Book Review ran a review essay on Harwit's 1996 book as its cover
story, "Tailspin: The Ex-director of the Air and Space Museum Tells How the
Enola Gay Exhibit Crashed."
33. Richard H. Kohn, "History and the Culture
Wars: The Case of the Smithsonian Institution's Enola Gay Exhibition,"
Journal of American History (December 1995): 1036-63; Richard P. Hallion and
Herman S. Wolk, "Air and Space Museum guilty, as charged" Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists (July/August, 1995): 75.
34. Henry L. Stimsom, "Memorandum Discussed with
President Truman, April 25, 1945" in "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,"
Harper's Magazine (February 1947): 99.
35. Nuel Pharr Davis, Lawrence and Oppenheimer,
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968): 247.
36. It is useful to note that Marshall, who was
clearly the dominant member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Truman's closest
military advisor, maintained that "war is the most terrible tragedy of the human
race and it should not be prolonged an hour longer than is absolutely
necessary." From a speech to the American Legion on 18 September 1944, Papers
of George C. Marshall, 4, 592, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore,
1996. See also Stimson's diary comments on 26 June 1945: "I took up at once the
subject of trying to get Japan to surrender by giving her a warning after she
had been sufficiently pounded possibly with S-1 [atom bombs]. This is a matter
about which I feel very strongly and feel the country will not be satisfied
unless every effort is made to shorten the war." Henry L. Stimson diary, Yale
37. D. M. Giangreco, "Casualty Projections," 569.
38. Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege, "Mobile
Strike Force" Military Review (July-August 1996): 78.
39. Draft of President Truman's letter to James
Lee Cate in President's Secretary's File, Harry S. Truman Library. Also see
Giangreco, "Casualty Projections," 537-38.
40. McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival:
Choices About the Bomb in the First Years, (Random House, New York, 1988) ,
41. It is also important to note that the figures
presented were only for specific and limited pieces of operations; were not
shown to Truman; and did not include naval losses that on the invasion of Kyushu
alone, for example, were expected be approximately double those at Okinawa.
42. Bernstein, "The Struggle over History:
Defining the Hiroshima Narrative," published in Philip Nobile, ed., Judgment
at the Smithsonian (New York: Marlowe and Company, 1995): 140.
43. The following is excerpted from an 10 August
1945 memo drafted by Marshall's staff for Leahy, and ended up not being sent
because of Japan's announcement that they intended to surrender. Too bad they
didn't send it anyway.
"Troops in hospitals in the United States [as of 30 June 1946:] 330,000. These
are troops who largely are of no further usefulness but cannot be discharged
until they have been given the greatest possible degree of mental and physical
rehabilitation possible in the Army hospitals. They are largely men who were
wounded in action."
Note the 330,000 figure for the estimated number of hospital beds likely to be
occupied in the Continental United States (CONUS) by Army-Army Air Force
personnel on 30 June 1946. Army Medical Corps had earlier estimated that
casualties incurred by summer of 1945 (all theaters) would continue to
occupy approximately 50,000 beds in June 1946 with approximately 5,000 more
occupied by personnel from non-combat theatres and CONUS. (They were pretty
close. Including dependents, it ended up coming in at just under 60,000.) This
means that the Army -- at senior levels -- was expecting something on the order
of 280,000 cases serious enough to require hospitalization in the United
States, and does not include (a) Navy-Marine personnel; (b) Army patients
in "forward" hospitals including Hawaii, the Philippines and Australia; (c) Army
patients discharged and sent back to their units in Pacific; (d) patients moved
into the Veterans Administration system; or (e) Killed in Action-Died of Wounds.
Projected dates for Olympic and Coronet, plus transit times back to CONUS,
suggests that the majority of these casualties were expected to be from Olympic.
This figure tracks extremely well with the March 1945 Army Service Forces
estimates for "approximately" 720,000 "dead and evacuated wounded" (footnote 64
in "Casualty Projections") even though their estimate extrapolates out to the
end of 1946.
44. For a useful corrective to the revisionists'
contentions about the end of the war see Robert James Maddox, Weapons for
Victory: The Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Later, (Columbia, MO, University
of Missouri Press, 1995).
45. Larry Bland, "George Marshall and Atomic
Diplomacy, 1945," Topics (September 1995): 2.
46. While some might contend that Samuel Johnson's
comments to James Boswell on 15 February 1766 are more apropos, their exchange
over dinner at the Mitre on September 30, 1769 seems to me appropriate enough.
Boswell tweaked Johnson by "attempt[ing] to argue for the superior happiness of
the savage life," but his friend would have none of it. "Johnson: 'Sir, there
can be nothing more false. The savages have no bodily advantages beyond those of
civilized men. They have not better health; and as to care or mental uneasiness,
they are not above it, but below it. . . . No sir; you are not to talk such
paradox. . . . It cannot entertain, far less can it instruct. Lord Monboddo, one
of your Scotch Judges, talked a great deal of such nonsense. . .' Boswell: 'But
Sir; does not Rousseau talk such nonsense?' Johnson: 'True Sir; but Rousseau
knows he is talking nonsense, and laughs at the world for staring at him.'
Boswell; 'How so, Sir?' Johnson: 'Why Sir; a man who talks nonsense so well,
must know that he is talking nonsense. But I am afraid (chuckling and laughing,)
Monboddo does not know that he is talking nonsense.' " James Boswell's Life
of Johnson, R.W. Chapman, ed., (Oxford University Press, Oxford, England,
47. Bernstein notes for example that "Ferrell
excludes anti-Soviet themes" within the Truman administration, does not discuss
the possibility of "continuing the siege strategy of blockade and conventional
bombing," plus "neglects the Roosevelt administration's decisions," etc.
48. John Keegan, The Face of
Press, 1976), 77.
49. D. M. Giangreco, "Operation Downfall: The Devil Was
In the Details" JFQ (Autumn 1995): 86-94.
50. D. M. Giangreco, "From the Field and Fleet: Letters
to the Editor" JFQ (Summer 1996): 6-7.