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During the Second World War, American losses in the battles against Japan were significant. The use of the atom bomb towards the end of the conflict changed America's fortunes. President Harry S Truman argued he was justified in using the weapon, but biographies released by his advisers years later argued Truman did not need to use it. So why did he decide to drop the bomb, and why did he portray events as he did in order to justify his use of the bomb?
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First broadcast:
9 January 2008

Classroom Ideas

Students should use this clip to engage in debate about whether Truman was ever justified in dropping the atom bomb in Japan. Investigate the motivation for use of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as arguments that could have been raised at the time against using it. While the ongoing fighting between the US and Japan should be considered, the class should also think about how much tensions within the wartime alliance and the growing suspicion between the USA and Soviet Union influenced Truman’s decision.

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