Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Featured Book: The Burning Mountain

The Burning Mountain
Alfred Coppel

America’s first atom bomb test fails and the US is forced to invade Japan in 1946.

Most Americans are familiar with the end of World War II, that the war ended after the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan. What many, if not most, Americans do not know is that a detailed plan for the invasion of Japan had been mapped out and would have been put into place if the atomic bombs did not work or were not ready.

The plan consisted of two parts. Operation Olympic would have been the invasion of Kyushu, the southernmost major island in Japan. American forces, with minimal involvement of other allied nations, would have invaded the island and taken over enough of the island to build numerous air bases. The second part of the plan was Operation Coronet, which was to be the invasion of the Tokyo basin area. It would have been an effort that would have dwarfed the operations in Normandy.

There was also a sort of sub-plan, based on use of the atomic bombs. Nine would have been scheduled for use, three of them to bomb the beaches that the American troops would land on, and three more behind the beach area. This was supposed to have reduced enemy resistance and allowed a relatively easy foothold to have been obtained. Three other bombs were to be held in reserve, to be used if the Japanese tried to move reinforcements in.

This fiction book is based on the premise that the initial testing of the atomic bomb did not occur as planned. There was going to be a delay, and so Operation Coronet was put into effect. (In the book Operation Olympic has already happened, and the Americans control around half the island.)

The book features a variety of characters, quite well done, and a very realistic, and very brutal, description of the war conditions and what happens to soldiers when they are killed. It's very graphic and could upset some readers.

The description of the attack itself is very well done (and is based on the actual plans for the invasion), and the description of the Japanese resistance is also well done. The book goes along with the idea that the Japanese civilians would have willingly participated in resisting the Americans, and would have used bamboo poles and anything else they could have to kill Americans. The civilian casualty rate, under such conditions, would have been tremendous (and the political pressure back in the states from the newspapers carrying articles about the “massacres” would also have been tremendous.)

The book also does a good job showing what can go right in such an invasion, and what can go wrong, and what the cost in when things go wrong.

The book deals a lot with the Japanese suicide efforts, including the kamikaze planes, but also including small boats, men underwater with bombs attached to them, and even civilians carrying explosives that they would detonate when Americans came near. 

There's a lot of what we would call treachery on the part of the Japanese in this novel, although from their viewpoint it was just them defending their homeland.

This is a really, really good book covering what very probably would have happened during any such Operation Coronet.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds very much like Robert Conroy's novel "1945"