• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13

How useful is source B as evidence to the historian writing about the atomic bomb?

Extracts from this document...


How useful is source B as evidence to the historian writing about the atomic bomb? (EVALUATION, ANALYSIS, UTILITY, RELIABILITY) Source B was written by an American soldier who helped drop the first atomic bomb, "Little Boy" on the Japanese town of Hiroshima, and is a primary source. It is a letter to the airman's son and is contained in a secondary source, a book called "No High Ground", by F. Knebel and C.W. Bailing, published in 1960. The fact that the book was written by an American, who was involved in the dropping of the first atomic bomb, makes this a valuable source. As the letter is a private communication, the airman is likely not to have embellished it with falsified information, or glorification of his own acts. The letter was not meant for publication. The first sentence of the letter is factual, and the events of the day are still fresh in the airman's mind, "... Today the lead plane of our little formation dropped a single bomb". The airman tells of the devastating power of the bomb, and the damage it has no doubt done to the Japanese city, "a single bomb which probably exploded with the force of 15,000 tons of high explosive." He goes into further detail about the bomb, all the time being very informative about its destructive clout, telling us he has probably aiding in killing thousands of Japanese. He does try to justify the bomb. He sees the bomb as a way to stop the threat of future war in the world, "This terrible weapon ... may bring the countries of the world together and prevent further wars". The airman clearly feels guilty about taking part in the dropping of the bomb. However, it could be said that the source may not be reliable. The airman may be embroidering the truth in order that his son will see his father in a good light. ...read more.


This source tells us "There were the shadowy forms of people, some of whom looked like walking ghosts." Again this source is very graphic. Source I was written by Stanley Lawrence, a prisoner of war in Nagasaki. This source is striking in its depiction of the dropping of the bomb. It tells us of the horrible state of the people affected by the bomb, "It was ... horrible to see the torn limbs and flesh hanging on so many of the Japanese". This image is also supported by Source J (mentioned earlier). The stark realism in these sources does, to some extent, back up their authority. The authors are unlikely to make up such graphic and disturbing images. Source G was written by an unnamed Allied POW in Japan. It was published in Fletcher-Cooke's "The Emperor's Guest", published in 1971. It is an Allied justification of the dropping of the atomic bomb. It tells us what the dropping of the bomb meant to Prisoners Of War at the time. It tells us that although the bomb killed thousands of Japanese it saved the lives of "tens of thousands of prisoners of war, of hundreds of thousands of Allied service men and almost certainty of millions of Japanese". The source is supported by Sources B, C, D, E and the video source K, which all tell us of the lives saved by the bomb. All these sources are justifications of the allied atomic bombing. These give a lot of support for Source G. Having said all of this, there are weaknesses to each source, particularly the two eyewitness accounts of the bombing (Source H and Source I). Neither of these sources conveys the bitterness you would expect from Allied POWs during the war, in fact they show sympathy towards their Japanese captors. The POWs had every reason to be enraged at the Japanese and to be happy to see them in so much pain. ...read more.


This article was probably not published in 1945 as it is seen as defamatory to the American and British government's image. Attitudes towards nuclear weapons also changed after time. People began to see the weapons as potential Armageddon instruments. The shocking after-effects were now known about. The arms race between the USA and Russia was beginning to worry people by the mid 60's and anti-nuclear groups sprung up, and gathered support. This changing viewpoint may have 'clouded' the memories related in Sources H and I. These sources were written many years after the attacks. The POW's both tell us of the enormous sense of guilt they felt at the time of the dropping of the atomic bomb. This, however seems unlikely, as these men were most probably being tortured by their Japanese captors. They may have embellished the truth with bits of fiction, to make them selves appear in a better light. In this question I fell I have looked at a variety of Sources with negative and positive views. I have noticed a pattern in the sources. I found that the stance of the source is determined by two factors: nationality and the date the source was written. Generally, the sources that come from a British and American angle, in the early years after the war, are in agreement with the dropping of the atomic bomb. Any other source is generally completely opposed to the dropping of the bomb. This is because the authors are more aware of the effects the bomb had, and since the war years, America and Japan have become big trading partners, with the emergence of Japan as an economic superpower. It would not be good for the Americans to risk damaging this relationship, by publishing anti-Japanese sources. The world today is also more aware of the effects of nuclear weapons due to the American/Soviet Union arms race during the Cold War, and incidents such as Chernobyl, where the effects of the reactor leakage are still being felt nearly 20 years after it first leaked. Paul Gormley 12B Atomic Bomb History Coursework Page 1 of 13 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    In their view, Greece and Turkey could well hold the key to the future of Europe itself. Hence they decided to ask Congress for $400 million in military and economic aid. In the process, the administration publicly defined postwar diplomacy, for the first time, as a universal conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil.

  2. Truman had several reasons for dropping the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    In defence they held their ground with furious determination. They had to be killed company by company, squad by squad, man by man to the last." Kamikaze planes were another method in which the Japanese showed their honour and bravery. The planes would be packed with explosives and the pilots faced almost certain death as they dived into Allied warships.

  1. Why did America drop the atomic bomb on Japan

    85% of Americans though it was a good idea to be violent and attack Japan. This may have spurred him on to attack Japan with the backing of American citizens or in an act of revenge for Japan attacking Pearl Harbour, in a shock attack.

  2. WWII Atomic Weapons Were Justified

    Senior officers were not only aware of these acts, but participated in them as well. Particularly disturbing is that the Japanese perpetrators derived great pleasure from these heinous crimes, while their superiors condoned and even supported them. One outstandingly revolting account is of several soldiers who, after raping and killing

  1. Was The Dropping Of The Atomic Bombs On Hiroshima And Nagasaki Justified?

    This source was not written by a Japanese citizen nor an American it was written by a British person. This tells us that it cannot be bias, as the person is from neither of the two fighting countries. The Americans had properly not thought of the after effect the bomb would have.

  2. An evaluation of the United States decision to use atomic bombs against Hiroshima and ...

    (Hambay 8) It is most likely given that the modification of terms for unconditional surrender to include maintenance of the emperor's position was the compromise by which the Japanese eventually did surrender, that their earlier surrender according to these modifications could have been obtained before the use of the atomic bombs.

  1. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    But the Israeli cabinet was eager to comply with Habib's cease-fire proposal, and Israel entered into a truce with the PLO. PLO leader Yasir Arafat was determined not to break the ceasefire. On a political level, the truce enhanced the PLO's diplomatic credibility.

  2. American History.

    candidates chosen by conventions] and quickly proceeded to take down the bank in 1833. Here's what he did... *Jackson's Second Term: Financial Crisis* - Basically, Jackson began by taking the $ in the nat'l bank and putting it in state-chartered banks - thereby shrinking the bank and making it just another private bank after 1836.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work