I have two questions about Paul Fussell's essay, "Thank God for the Atom Bomb". Who is the intended audience? What is the material covered?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Paul Fussell's "Thank God For Atom The Bomb" was first published under the title "Hiroshima: A Soldier's View," in a magazine, the New Republic, in August 1981. It was then republished under the title "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" in his essay collection Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays in 1988. 

Its initial publication in the New Republic, a liberal magazine that describes itself as "tailored for smart, curious, socially aware readers", suggests that Fussell is writing mainly for an upper middle class, highly educated, and politically liberal audience. Textual evidence suggests that Fussell expected most of his readers to think that the American decision to drop the two atom bombs on Japan, landing in the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II, was ethically wrong.

The main argument of the essay is based around social class and personal experience. Fussell argues that people who consider the decisions wrong lack personal experience of the horrors of war as seen from the infantry perspective, because their class privilege means that they have no relevant personal experience. He also argues that Japan was not close to surrender, and that although the devastation and casualties caused by the bombing were horrific, that opponents of the bomb neglect the equal or greater horrors suffered by the American soldiers, the Japanese civilians conscripted to fight against them, and the prisoners of war.


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