The New Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds

This group project takes the events of August 1945 and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and looks at them from various perspectives: Harry Truman, an American soldier, a scientist from the Manhattan Project, and a Japanese survivor. Each will present their views on the first use of nuclear weapons in combat, and then numerous scholarly articles and newspaper letters to the editors will be read. Finally, we will look at the historiography on this event and focus on recent revisionist historians (and their critics), using the 1988 AP United States History DBQ on this history. Complexity, complexity, complexity!

Lastly, we will write on the controversy where students can explain at length their own thinking on whether the United States was justified in dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. Similar to the question, “Was the Civil War about slavery?”, this prompt always generates plenty of passion and noise from students. I prime the pump by framing the prompt thusly: “Resolved, that Harry Truman is a war criminal.” The questions was designed to be polemical and garner a response — like you would see here.

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