Drop The Bomb History

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H-240.01 – Methods and Theory of History York College of Pennsylvania Submitted to Dr. Peter Levy By George Hay Kain, III 4 May 2006 Assignment VIII – Davidson Review Chapter 13 – The Decision to Drop the Bomb Part I - What did I learn from this chapter? To say that World War II ended because “Truman dropped the bomb” is merely convenient shorthand used by historians in their historical narratives. The actual sequence of events leading up to the actual detonation of the first and second atomic bombs is far more complex. As stated by Davidson and Lytle, “The difference in meaning between ‘Truman dropped the atom bomb’ and what actually happened encapsulates the dilemma of a historian trying to portray the workings of a systematized,…show more content…
Attention is focused on the policy-making debates of certain key politicians and scientists. The actual events, however, involved numerous committees well below the higher-level key players. The authors suggest that the government is not so much like a giant clock whereby bureaucracy acts as neutral cogs but is rather more like a football team. While the rational actor analysis suggests the coach or quarterback selects strategies best suited winning the game, the game is not so centrally coordinated as would appear at first glance. Each team member plays his part in the game as he has been trained to play it, yet sometimes a few players’ actions seem inappropriate. What one model treats as planned, the other model treats as a mistake.…show more content…
(330). By treating the decision to drop the bomb not as a single act but as the outcome of many organizational routines, historians can see more clearly that progress on the bomb came slowly, and indeed might not have come at all if scientists had not broken through the bureaucratic chain of command. Bureaucratic structures and standard operating procedures were major factors in the development of the bomb, but within that organizational framework, not all bureaucrats were created equal. Davidson and Lytle urge historians to be alert to decisions shaped by politics within government institutions. A person’s official position in an organization does not alone indicate his or her actual influence. Robert Kennedy in his brother’s administration is a prime example. Davidson and Lytle lead the reader through an examination of events using the bureaucratic politics model to explain why alternatives to dropping the bomb were never seriously considered. While certain scientists favored a demonstration, their suggestion was vetoed by Truman’s gatekeeper and Secretary of State, James Byrnes, who refused to even forward the suggestion to
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