140 Days to Hiroshima

The Story of Japan’s Last Chance to Avert Armageddon

“Deeply researched and carefully nuanced . . . Barrett shrewdly integrates essential military realities with the potent domestic cross currents affecting leaders on both sides of the Pacific.”

—Richard B. Frank, author of Downfall

Here are the secret strategy sessions, fierce debates, looming assassinations, and planned invasions that resulted in history’s first use of nuclear weapons in combat, and the ensuing chaos as the Japanese government struggled to respond to the reality of nuclear war.

As World War II neared its end and America’s strategic bombing campaign incinerated Japan’s cities, two military giants locked in a death embrace of cultural differences and diplomatic intransigence. United States leaders called for the “unconditional surrender” of the Japanese Empire while weighing an invasion, Downfall, that would have dwarfed D-Day. Their enemy responded with a last-ditch plan: Ketsu-Go, calling for the suicidal resistance of every able-bodied citizen in “The Decisive Battle” for the homeland. But had Emperor Hirohito’s generals miscalculated how far the Americans had come in developing the atomic bomb, history’s deadliest weapon? How close did President Harry Truman come to ordering the invasion of Japan?

Within the Japanese Supreme Council at the Direction of War, a.k.a. “The Big Six,” Foreign Minister Shigenori Tōgō risked assassination to save his country from annihilation. But the Big Six remained defiant. They refused to surrender even after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

How did Japanese leaders come to this impasse? The answers lie in this nearly day-by-day account of the struggle to end the most destructive conflict in history.

“Reads like a Tom Clancy thriller . . . a gripping, day-by-day account.”

— Flint Whitlock, editor of WWII Quarterly magazine and coauthor of The Depths of Courage

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