Polemics & Exchanges

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I love to argue controversial issues—and even argue with myself.  On occasion I’ve found both of me wrong.  I strongly dislike having my position misrepresented, though.  Allen Mendenhall (“Atomic Anniversary,” News, August), in arguing against the use of the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, mentions my piece on the subject (Sins of Omission, July 2009) and says, “McGrath concluded that the bombs ultimately saved thousands of American and Japanese lives.”  For the record, I concluded, “Most of our military leaders thought that our casualties would reach the hundreds of thousands.  Secretary of War Henry Stimson told Truman that our casualties could approach one million.”  I hope that Mendenhall was merely careless in using “thousands” rather than “hundreds of thousands” and “one million.”  I also said in an exchange with readers (Polemics & Exchanges, August 2009) that the bombs, as an alternative to an invasion of the Japanese home islands, saved “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Japanese.”  With the record corrected, let the debate begin!


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