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America’s Hiroshima: Culture Wars and the Classroom

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The dominant American view of Hiroshima and Nagasaki owes much to what people felt when they first heard about the bombings fifty years ago. In 1945, many Americans believed the Japanese got what they deserved when we bombed those two cities. An August 1945 Gallup poll showed 85 percent of the public approving of the use of the atomic bombs on Japanese cities.1 A second poll, published in the December 1945 issue of Fortune, a leading business magazine, is even more revealing. It showed 53.5 percent of the American public believing we “should have used the two bombs on cities, just as we did.” An additional 22.7 percent believed that we “should have quickly used many more of them [atomic bombs] before Japan had a chance to surrender.”2