Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947

Hell To Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947 is a comprehensive and compelling examination of the myriad complex issues that comprised the strategic plans for the American invasion of Japan. U.S. planning for the invasion and military occupation of Imperial Japan was begun in 1943, two years before the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In its final form, Operation Downfall called for a massive Allied invasion--on a scale dwarfing D-Day--to be carried out in two stages. In the first stage, Operation Olympic, the U.S. Sixth Army would lead the southern-most assault on the Home Island of Kyushu preceded by the dropping of as many as nine atom bombs behind the landing beaches. Sixth Army would secure airfields and anchorages needed to launch the second stage, Operation Coronet, 500 miles to the north in 1946. The decisive Coronet invasion of the industrial heartland of Japan through the Tokyo Plain would be led by the Eighth Army, as well as the First Army, which had previously pummeled its way across France and Germany to defeat the Nazis. These facts are well known and have been recounted, with varying degrees of accuracy, in a variety of books and articles. A common theme in these works is their reliance on a relatively few declassified high-level planning documents. An attempt to fully understand how both the U.S. and Japan planned to conduct the massive battles subsequent to the initial landings was not dealt with in these books beyond the skeletal U.S. outlines formulated nine months before the initial land battles were to commence, and more than a year before the anticipated climactic series of battles near Tokyo. On the Japanese side, plans for Operation Ketsu-go, the decisive battle in the Home Islands, have been unexamined below the strategic level and seldom consisted of more than a list of the units involved and a rehash of U.S. intelligence estimates of Kamikaze aircraft available for the defense of Kyushu. Hell to Pay examines the invasion of Japan in light of the large body of Japanese and American operational and tactical planning documents unearthed by the author in both familiar and obscure archives, as well as postwar interrogations and reports that senior Japanese commanders and their staffs were ordered to produce for General MacArthur's headquarters. Hell to Pay clarifies the political and military ramifications of the enormous casualties and loss of material projected by both sides in the climatic struggle to bring the Pacific War to a conclusion through a brutal series of battles on Japanese soil. This groundbreaking history counters the revisionist interpretations questioning the rationale for the use of the atom bomb and shows that President Truman's decision was based on very real estimates of the truly horrific cost of a conventional invasion of Japan.

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By Urey (The United States) · August 05, 2011
This is a data rich account of the plans, resources, strategies and preparations on both Japanese and US sides for the inevitable, unavoidable invasions of Japan - Kyushu followed by the final invasion of the Tokyo plains on Honshu. Truman's decision to nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki end... ...more
By Rod (Chelsea, MI) · ★★★★★ · September 05, 2010
Remember the brouhaha associated the Smithsonian's 50th anniversary exhibit on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings? The exhibits implied that the bombings were unnecessary and amounted to war crimes. Veterans that suggested that the invasion of Japan would have lead to far more deaths (on... ...more
By Steven (Oregon City, OR) · ★★★★☆ · September 24, 2014
There is an on-going, seven decade old debate about whether the Japanese Empire would have surrendered absent the dropping of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. The simple answer is “yes”. Japan was the lone surviving member of the Axis Alliance. Surrounded by the combined forces of history... ...more
By James (The United States) · ★★★★★ · April 12, 2014
I always wondered about the allied plan to invade Japan in WWII. Most accounts of WWII leading up to the A-Bomb droppings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki but do not get into the detail of what would have happened IF we had to really invade Japan and take it by force. In years passed, there have been so... ...more
By David (Palo Alto, CA) · ★★★★☆ · August 09, 2014
Probably one of the least likely, or perhaps, least interesting subjects to delve in to concerning the Second World War. This books discusses contemporary perceptions, and the reality of the projected Invasion of Japan. That is important as it can frame the discussion of the US decision to use At... ...more
By Sean (Charles Town, WV) · ★★☆☆☆ · June 03, 2013
This book purports to be a study of what would've happened in the US had invaded Japan in late 1945, but in truth it is a thinly disguised defense of Truman's decision to use nuclear weapons. There is certainly a strong case to be made that Truman made the right decision, but Giangreco doesn't ma... ...more
By Josh (Stuart, FL) · ★★★☆☆ · August 02, 2012
A good recent book that delves in the many details of Operation Downfall (the invasion of Japan) and its two sub-operations: Olympic (Kyushu, fall 1945) and Coronet (Honshu, spring 1946).

I have read several books about the end of the war against Japan, but none of them go into the depth of this b... ...more
By Mike (San Antonio, TX) · ★★★☆☆ · April 13, 2013
This is a detailed examination of the Japanese and American planning for the Invasion of Japan. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the global challenges faced by the US Army in World War II, the decision to drop the Atomic Bombs or anyone who has read historical accounts o... ...more
By charlie (New York, NY) · ★★★☆☆ · October 08, 2013
This is a book for war gamers with a gigantic table, a huge map of the Pacific Ocean and thousands of little figurines. The level of detail is impeccably thorough and I learned a lot about the logistical planning into massive invasions and the state of play in August 1945 in the Pacific Ocean.

Wha... ...more
By K. H. · ★★★★☆ · November 08, 2013
Puts the lie to recent revisionist histories of the decision to drop the atomic bomb with well-researched facts taken from both American and Japanese sources. Every decision involving war involves re-distributing death. No matter what is done or not done, people will die as a result. The only que... ...more