Prompt and Utter Destruction, Third Edition

Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan

Third Edition

By J. Samuel Walker

160 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 8 halftones, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2897-4
    Published: August 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2898-1
    Published: June 2016
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5202-1
    Published: June 2016

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit
In this concise account of why America used atomic bombs against Japan in 1945, J. Samuel Walker analyzes the reasons behind President Truman’s most controversial decision. Delineating what was known and not known by American leaders at the time, Walker evaluates the options available for ending the war with Japan. In this new edition, Walker incorporates a decade of new research--mostly from Japanese archives only recently made available--that provides fresh insight on the strategic considerations that led to dropping the bomb. From the debate about whether to invade or continue the conventional bombing of Japan to Tokyo’s agonizing deliberations over surrender and the effects of both low- and high-level radiation exposure, Walker continues to shed light on one of the most earthshaking moments in history.

Rising above an often polemical debate, the third edition presents an accessible synthesis of previous work and new research to help make sense of the events that ushered in the atomic age.

About the Author

J. Samuel Walker is a prize-winning historian and author of books on the history of American foreign policy, nuclear energy, and college basketball.
For more information about J. Samuel Walker, visit the Author Page.


Praise for previous editions:

"Brief, lucidly written, and thoroughly documented, this book may well be the best existing report on the decision to use the bomb. Professional historians as well as undergraduates will find it fascinating."—Isis

"Walker's book is the most useful layman's synthesis of the debate in print."—Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

"The author's ability to cover the most important issues with economy . . . make[s] this an excellent addition to the literature, particularly useful for beginning students."—Foreign Affairs

"So intelligent is Walker’s book, so balanced, economical, lucid, and deeply informed, that those reading it will never again believe that the decision to drop the bomb was uncomplicated."—Technology & Culture

"Mature, confident scholarship, this is the best synthetic study of the use of the atomic bomb."—International History Review