I’m taking a break from all the news going on these days to take a look back at an important time in our country’s history. An event that changed the world forever.
Chris Wallace has a new book out called “Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days that Changed the World.”
This is a story I thought I knew. I didn’t know it all.
It starts on April 12, 1945. Harry Truman becomes president after Franklin Roosevelt dies. One of the first things he learns about is something called “The Manhattan Project.” That super-secret operation underway to develop an atomic bomb.
From there, it takes you from the development and testing of the weapon to the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“Countdown 1945” is a page turner. Reads like a thriller. The chapter about testing the bomb made me nervous. You know how it ends, but did they know? No. So many questions they asked. Will it work? If it does, how much destruction might there be?
Throughout the book, you meet all the players: Harry Truman. Robert Oppenheimer—aka the “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” Colonel Paul Tibbets. He flew the Enola Gay when it dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.
There is another character in the book too. Hideko Tamura. Hideko was ten years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She survived the attack, but her mother did not.
Her story is extraordinary. Perhaps what makes it so remarkable is that Hideko Tamura is alive today and lives in the United States.
In the documentary version of the book entitled “Countdown 1945,” Chris Wallace takes Hideko Tamura to see the Enola Gay—the airplane that dropped the nuclear bomb on her city. It’s at the annex of the Air and Space Museum near Washington, D.C.
As she comes upon it, Chris asks her if she feels anger.
“No,” she says, “I was never angry. Just totally, deeply, grief stricken.” She then says, “I wish to give a prayer for peace in the world.”
After a pause, she looks at the plane and says, “So, goodbye. Sayonara.”
It is a powerful and moving moment. One that sticks with you.
A prayer for peace.
If you love American history, “Countdown 1945” is an excellent summer read. Even if you know the story, believe me, you haven’t heard it told like this.
I read the book specifically so that I could interview Chris about it. It was a crash course. Now, I’m reading it again… just because I want to.