Road to Surrender
Three Men and the Countdown to the End of World War II
by Evan Thomas
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Pub Date 18 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 23 Aug 2023
‘In this meticulously crafted and vivid account, Evan Thomas tells the gripping and terrifying story of the last days of the Second World War in the Pacific. Writing with insight and understanding, he recreates for us those critical moments when, for better or worse, the decisions, from the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the Japanese surrender, were made.’ Margaret MacMillan
At 9:20 a.m. on the morning of May 30, General Groves receives a message to report to the office of the secretary of war “at once.” Stimson is waiting for him. He wants to know: has Groves selected the targets yet?
So begins this suspenseful, impeccably researched history that draws on new access to diaries to tell the story of three men who were intimately involved with America’s decision to drop the atomic bomb—and Japan’s decision to surrender. They are Henry Stimson, the American Secretary of War, who had overall responsibility for decisions about the atom bomb; Gen. Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, head of strategic bombing in the Pacific, who supervised the planes that dropped the bombs; and Japanese Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, the only one in Emperor Hirohito’s Supreme War Council who believed even before the bombs were dropped that Japan should surrender.
Henry Stimson had served in the administrations of five presidents, but as the U.S. nuclear program progressed, he found himself tasked with the unimaginable decision of determining whether to deploy the bomb. The new president, Harry S. Truman, thus far a peripheral figure in the momentous decision, accepted Stimson’s recommendation to drop the bomb. Army Air Force Commander Gen. Spaatz ordered the planes to take off. Like Stimson, Spaatz agonized over the command even as he recognized it would end the war. After the bombs were dropped, Foreign Minister Togo was finally able to convince the emperor to surrender.
To bring these critical events to vivid life, bestselling author Evan Thomas draws on the diaries of Stimson, Togo and Spaatz, contemplating the immense weight of their historic decision. In Road to Surrender, an immersive, surprising, moving account, Thomas lays out the behind-the-scenes thoughts, feelings, motivations, and decision-making of three people who changed history
‘This dramatic, you-are-there masterpiece provides a convincing explanation of one of the great moral questions of 20th century history: was America right to drop the atom bomb on Japan at the end of World War II? With remarkable reporting and access to new documents—as well as his own solid insights—Thomas describes the agonizing decisions through the eyes and minds and hearts of the men involved on both sides. This is an indispensable book for those who want to understand the moral issues surrounding the use of great power.’ Walter Isaacson
‘A terrifying, heart-breaking account of three men under unimaginable pressure. This is history that crackles with journalistic immediacy. I challenge you not to read this book in a single sitting.’ Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea and Travels with George