Study Guide

Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the Worlds Most Dangerous Weapon Chapter 34

By Steve Sheinkin

Chapter 34

Reaction Begins

  • Groves calls Oppenheimer to give him the report on Hiroshima, and with the amount of puns and deadpanning in it, it almost reads like a stand-up routine.
  • Truman gets the news and is thrilled.
  • The White House releases a pretty gutsy statement about what Japan can expect if they don't surrender.
  • When the scientists at Los Alamos hear their bomb was successful they immediately celebrate—and then they realize how many people probably died as a direct result of their work and sobriety settles in.
  • Otto Hahn—the physicist who discovered fission—is told about Hiroshima, and he's devastated that his discovery led to such terrible destruction.
  • Heisenberg still can't believe that the Americans actually made an atomic bomb.
  • The German scientists being held at Farm Hill debate whether they could have built the bomb or not, and what the results would have been.
  • Stalin is absolutely livid about the bomb, and demands his scientists get him one stat.
  • Japan is reeling as details slowly emerge about what happened at Hiroshima.
  • General Torashiro Kawabe inquires about Japan's capability to build an atomic bomb, and his top atomic scientist is like, "Yeah, not anytime soon. Plus, we don't have any uranium…so…"
  • Japanese leaders are still torn about accepting the Potsdam conditions, even after learning about the devastation of Hiroshima. (Basically, politicians vote "yes," but the military leaders are digging in their heels.)
  • Truman and Stimson (Secretary of War) are deciding what their next move should be. Although Stimson urges Truman to make some concessions so the Japanese will surrender, Truman knows he can't back down from unconditional surrender terms now, not when he has the upper hand.
  • Meanwhile, back on Tinian they are assembling Fat Man, the plutonium bomb.
  • Tibbets has orders to drop another bomb as soon as weather permits in order to give the illusion that they have an endless supply of them.
  • Charles Sweeney is assigned the mission of dropping Fat Man.
  • Their primary target, Kokura, has cloudy weather and is heavily defended, so they go to their secondary target: Nagasaki.
  • The utter destruction of Nagasaki occurs on August 9, 1945.
  • People all over Japan are in a state of constant dread that their city will be next.
  • The Big Six continue to be deadlocked until Emperor Hirohito goes against typical government modus operandi and steps in to order that they surrender.
  • Japan surrenders on August 15, effectively ending World War II.