“Countdown 1945” Review

I read a book this week that is not my typical genre to choose . . . “Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World” by Chris Wallace. This non-fiction book begins on the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies and Vice-President Harry S. Truman must suddenly take on the job as the leader of the United States after only a few weeks serving as Vice President.. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/harry-s-truman/)  WWII has been going on for years and the military has been working on the development of a secret weapon – one that even Vice-President Truman knows nothing about. The book documents the details behind the 116 days that lead up to the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. 

This book will really appeal to readers who enjoy military history because it offers glimpses into the men and women who worked on the Manhattan Project, the secret name for the project to develop the atomic bomb. Chris Wallace does a great job describing the people involved with the project, including thoughts they may have written in diaries and moral dilemmas that they wrestled with as the project unfolded. I especially liked the inclusion of many photos in the book.

I loved that “Countdown 1945,” showed how President Truman  wrestled with the difficult decisions made during the war. He was a down-to-earth, midwest man who had no patience for “games” or small-talk. Wallace included perceptions Truman had about Churchill and Stalin during their meetings about the war. It also detailed the different jobs that went into the project and the mindsets of the flight crews and pilots – who were also kept in the dark about certain information until the last minute. These men and women changed the world we live in – I am so glad that I was able to read their story!

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