Killing the Rising Sun

Bill O’Reilly usually irritated me when he was on the air, so I did not jump to read any of his “Killing” series of books. However, I was interested in learning a bit more about the Pacific theatre of World War 2 following my reading of “The Generals” by Winston Groom, a triple biography of George Marshall, George Patton and Douglas MacArthur.

O’Reilly and Dugard’s telling of the final four months of World War 2 captivated my attention. They were sufficiently graphic in portraying the brutality of the Navy & Marines’ island-hopping campaign while explaining the logic dictating the useof that strategy. They also told why it was Army General MacArthur, and not a Naval Admiral, assigned to oversee the rebuilding of Japan following the war.

The never-ending debate concerning the use of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima and a few days later Nagasaki, forcing the conclusion of the war with Japan, is thoroughly explored. The authors added several details tomy knowledge of the testing and delivery of the bombs. The two devices were different designs, and while they ushered in a new era, there were survivors inboth attacks. The stories of the b-29 bombers Enola Gay, Bockscar, The Great Artiste, and their respective crews were fascinating.

They also gave me a new appreciation for Harry Truman and the position Roosevelt’s passing, which must have been anticipated by FDR, placed him. Not only did he have to get up to speed with the new weapon, but he also transformed himself into a respected world leader and an accomplished statesman.

Petcoff’s narration was masterful, using multiple voices to help distinguish the speakers. I enjoyed his recitation of the many footnotes, which provided unexpected trivia highlights throughout the story.

Finally, in preparing this review, I learned that O’Reilly’s background includes a Bachelor’s degree in history and a stint teaching both history and English.

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