HELL TO PAY Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947 by G.M. Giangreco. Unabridged audio, read by Danny Campbell.

For some reason, there still seems to be a controversy over whether or not dropping the atomic bombs on Japan was necessary, or whether an invasion would have had far fewer casualties than is usually thought. This line of reasoning typically begins with the United States imposing a lengthy starvation blockade on Japan, or going ahead with invasion plans, and that either one would have produced far fewer Japanese casualties than the A-bombs did, and American casualties would have been minimal.

This book is the definitive response to that argument. The author refrains from any speculation, using only actual documents and histories to map out what would have been a terrifying and incredibly costly fight to the finish. This is a scholarly book, although not a boring one at all; it will hold up to the closest academic scrutiny. I learned something new on almost every page, including how the casualty rate in the Pacific influenced Eisenhower’s decisions in Europe. The reading is passable, there are a few instances of words being mis-pronounced, but in fair Campbell also handles Japanese words very well. All in all, this is a shockingly mandatory book for anyone with even the most remote interest in the Pacific Theater. A definite ‘A’ effort.