The Enola Gay and the Smithsonian Institution

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About the Book

On August 6, 1945, the B-29 Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, which ushered on the end of World War II. For the 50th anniversary of this major event in world history, the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution produced an exhibit. A controversy erupted, however, over the exhibit’s historical authenticity. Veterans, for example, complained that the museum displayed a misrepresented version of history.
After concisely covering the background of the Enola Gay and its mission, this study focuses on the controversy surrounding the museum exhibit. Issues covered include casualty figures, ethical questions, and political correctness, among others. The viewpoints of such groups as museum personnel, exhibit organizers, veterans, and historians are covered. Appendices offer information on content analysis of the National Air and Space Museum exhibit script, non-museum materials that were intended to complement the exhibit script, and the importance of full disclosure in research.

About the Author(s)

Charles T. O’Reilly has taught at Loyola University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the State University of New York at Albany. He lives in Wilmette, Illinois.
William A. Rooney is a former advertising and communications executive. He lives in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Charles T. O’Reilly and William A. Rooney
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 255
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2008-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8400-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

1. The NASM Plans an Exhibit      5

2. Why the Battle of the Enola Gay?      23

3. Was Japan Ready to Surrender?      43

4. Unconditional Surrender      59

5. Was Germany an A-Bomb Target?      67

6. The Question of Casualties      87

7. Where Did the 500,000 Come From?      114

8. Defending the Exhibit      133

9. The Moral Question      159

10. Epilogue      167

Appendix A: Is Speculation History?      189

Appendix B: The “Tiger Team” Report      197

Appendix C: Why Not Full Disclosure?      200

Notes      205

Bibliography      237

Index      245

Book Reviews & Awards

“outstanding, well-argued critique…thorough…meticulous…excellent”—Air Power History.