July 8, 2005
Summer Prologue Magazine Focuses On End of World War II 60 Years Ago
Washington, DC. . .The end of World War II 60 years ago this summer came with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan, but only after some of the most intense and bloodiest fighting of the Pacific War, according to an article in the Summer issue of Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration.
In "Okinawa: The Battle, the Bomb, and the Camera," John S. Reed, who teaches history at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and is an Army reservist, uses words and pictures from the National Archives to describe the fierceness of the fighting on Okinawa in the spring of 1945.
"Increasingly, the Battle of Okinawa is receiving scholarly attention not just for its human tragedy or its inherent military interest, but also for its influence on President Harry S. Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan," Reed writes.
Reed explains how the heavy American casualties there—more than 14,000 Americans were killed and 57,000 wounded—played into Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan in August. High U.S. casualty rates on Okinawa, he explains, were used to project casualties that would occur during a planned invasion of the Japanese mainland in late 1945—figures that made it easier for Truman to approve using the bomb to end the war.
In a related article, Prologue also reproduces the handwritten "release when ready" note from President Truman to the secretary of war in late July of 1945, giving what many consider his final go-ahead for the release of the bomb over Japan. In the note, he was referring to a press release announcing the bomb's dropping on August 6, 1945.
Another World War II feature, by NARA archivist Robert Ellis, recalls how the government called upon the Boy Scouts of America to distribute patriotic posters—done by famous artists of the day to promote rationing and warn against sabotage—all around the country to spur on production of war materiel.
The Summer Prologue also examines how the border between the United States and Mexico was determined in the 1840s, after the Mexican War, then again in the 1890s. Michael Dear, a professor of geography at the University of Southern California, recounts the difficult task of drawing a line from the Rio Grande to the Pacific.
Also, a preview of a special exhibit this summer at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., called "Americans in Paris," focuses on Americans whose time in Paris has had an impact at key moments in history. The exhibit runs through October 10 in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery.
For 36 years, Prologue has shared with readers the rich resources and programs of the National Archives, its regional archives, and the Presidential libraries. Each issue features historical articles—drawn from National Archives' holdings and written by noted historians, archivists, and experts—as well as articles explaining and describing many of the National Archives' activities and programs as the nation's recordkeeping agency. The Washington Post said, "Prologue . . . can be regarded quite literally as an invitation for further study. It is also consistently absorbing reading."
A 1-year subscription to Prologue costs $20. To begin a subscription, call 301-837-1850 or 1-800-234-8861, or print out the order form found on the web site at www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/order/. Mail orders to Prologue, P.O. Box 100684, Atlanta, GA, 30384.
You can also fax credit card orders to Prologue at 301-837-0319.
Single copies of Prologue are available at the Archives Shop or at the Cashier's Office in the National Archives Building in Washington or at the Publications Sales Office at the National Archives at College Park. Back issues are also available at the College Park location.
# # #