Gar Alperovitz, Hiroshima and Me: E-mail From the Great Historian

War Criminal Tibbets piloted the Enola Gay, named after his mother, that destroyed a city of non-combatants. These non-combatants and innocents did NOT bomb Pearl Harbor.

Today marks the sixty-eighth anniversary of the greatest war crime ever perpetrated with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. This crime shall forever disgrace the historical legacy and notion of American exceptionalism. Despite liberal historiography and fawning “presidential historians,” this event secures President Harry Truman’s place in the pantheon of evil along side Hitler, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and in many ways, Stalin. While Patrick Dougherty at Saint Louis University and Howard Zinn at Boston University had the greatest impact on my formation as a historian, Gar Alperovitz’s revisionism of the decision to use the atomic bomb was a major event in my development as a historian and interest in the nuclear age. Dougherty in graduate school directed my master’s project on Massive Retaliation and it was Alperovitz’s writings that sealed the deal.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lays a flower wreath on an altar for A-bomb victims in Hiroshima, on August 6, 2013 (Jiji Press/AFP)

I am reproducing some e-mail exchanges between Dr Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, and me that reveal his gracious interest in my work and my pride in his even responding to my e-mail. I gave a paper at the Midwest Political Science Association meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago that was later revised and published this past June. I also published an article in The Historian that utilized his scholarship as well as primary sources. The first dealt with realism and its surprising adaptability to Alperovitz’s writings. The other article explored the pro-A-bomb propaganda emanating from major world capitals on August 6, 1945 (US, UK, Canada).  Since Alperovitz more than any other historian revealed the genocidal, racist nature of the bomb and exploded the mythology of a million-casualty invasion and the need for the weapon to end the war, I thought on this solemn day of remembrance for the untold butchery inflicted on the innocent civilians of Hiroshima and later Nagasaki, I would publish the email.

From: Kirstein, Peter N. Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 10:25 AM To: Gar Alperovitz Subject: RE: Article on Your Scholarship Has Appeared

Thank you, Dr Alperovitz:

If upon reading it you have any comments, I would be honoured to receive them.

Best wishes,


Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University
Vice President AAUP Illinois

From: Gar Alperovitz [] Sent: Wed 6/19/2013 9:44 AM To: Kirstein, Peter N. Subject: Re: Article on Your Scholarship Has Appeared

Dear Professor Kirstein,

Your email came in as I was doing emails… Thank you for sending this; on a quick skim, the argument looks most interesting indeed.

Dealing directly with the realists is a new angle of attack, and I look forward to reading carefully.

Best wishes,

Gar Alperovitz

On Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 9:57 AM, Kirstein, Peter N. <> wrote:

Dear Professor Alperovitz:
I have published an article titled that appeared in a new journal, Advances in Historical Studies.
I hope you enjoy reading it. It was originally presented as a conference paper at the Midwest Political Science Asso Mtg. in Chicago in 2012.

From: Gar Alperovitz [] Sent: Sun 8/7/2011 9:25 AM To: Kirstein, Peter N. Subject: Re: On Your Impact and Article

Thank you for this, and for your generous comments. I look forward reading it in near future, either on return or possibly while here.

Best wishes

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 7, 2011, at 9:05 AM, “Kirstein, Peter N.” <> wrote:
Dear Professor Alperovitz:
I first became aware of your inspiring work when I was a student of the late Howard Zinn at Boston U. Your analysis of the atomic bomb and its origins constitutes one of the more significant historical discoveries of our time. It was one of the reasons I became a historian.
Without being presumptuous I hope, you may be interested in an article, “Hiroshima and Spinning the Atom: America, Britain, and Canada Proclaim the Nuclear Age, 6 August 1945,” The Historian that cited your work. While I presume you would prefer to read it via PDF format, I did download it to my blog in less precise format:
I read your latest analysis in FireDogLake and per usual, it provided new revelations and understandings of this horrific event.
Best wishes,
Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University. Chicago
Vice President AAUP Illinois

— Gar Alperovitz Lionel R. Bauman Professor  Of Political Economy University of Maryland College Park, Maryland Twitter * Facebook * Subscribe to my newsletter

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