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Dropping the Atomic Bomb: The Debate Continues

Evening Program

Monday, July 27, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0518
$25 - Member
$30 - Non-Member

A B-29 Superfortress, over Osaka on 1 June 1945 (USGOV-PD/U.S. Air Force)


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • For multiple registrations, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses.


Seventy-five years after U.S. war planes dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and brought World War II to a rapid close, the act that President Harry Truman called "the greatest thing in history" remains highly contentious among the American public.

At the time, 85% of Americans approved of the bombings, with some wanting more to follow. Since then, the public is much more divided about those actions. Was it militarily unnecessary and morally unjustifiable as Generals Leahy, MacArthur, and Eisenhower thought at the time? And in authorizing the bombings, did U.S. leaders knowingly put humanity on a glide path toward extinction?

Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, explores how these history-changing acts were decided, how history has come to see the decisions, and why the dropping of the first atomic bombs still remains a highly sensitive and difficult issue.


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  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.


This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.