43 Seconds

The Bombing Mission That Redefined Total Warfare

Details

Oral History Archive

7-1/4 x 8 inches

105 color pages, 25 photographs & illustrations including ten fold-out pages & eight removable snapshots

Hand-bound with metal posts using a sheet metal cover

Published November 2018

Overview

43 Seconds tells the story of the events surrounding the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan at the close of World War II. The centerpiece of the book is an extensive interview with General Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the B-29 aircraft Enola Gay, which delivered the bomb on that fateful day. Tibbets was not only commander of the sortie but also commanding officer of the entire bomb group tasked with developing the mission training, plans, tactics, and procedures, for those top-secret and pivotal missions. His perspective is important to understanding the issues involved with this historic bombing.

     In addition to the oral history, the book contains historical context information dating back to the Sakoku Edict  of 1635 to present day news materials examining the conclusion of the post-World War II war crimes trials of leading Japanese officials.

     43 Seconds tells the story of humankind's eschewing of the "chivalry"  associated with Napoleonic warfare in exchange for the harshness of total warfare. It does not make judgements nor inferences about the strategic necessity of the bombing of Hiroshima. Instead, it simply gives the reader a hard look at the lead-up to and the horror of the penultimate example of total warfare.

Creative Strategy

The subject of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan evokes an intense emotional reaction from almost all people regardless of their feelings on whether the event was justified or not. Attempting to maintain a clinical neutrality in the process of telling this story made for a lifeless narrative. Instead, I chose to pour out a collection of information that explores many facets of the event, including the extremely complex history between the United States and Japan prior to 1941. In this way, the reader could consider information that may be new to them and contemplate various  sides of the story. The story is not meant to sway but to inform and even more so, to cause readers to look deeper into the origins, causes, and decisions made by both countries that led to this monumental event in military and human history.  

“We were sobered by the knowledge that the world would never be the same. War, the scourge of the human race since time began, now held terrors beyond belief.”

— Gen. Paul Tibbets

Reader Experience

The book reading experience begins with the reader being provided a large, plain yellow envelope secured with "tamper-proof" tape marked with a "Silverplate" identification  number. Silverplate was the code name for the atomic bombing missions. The reader is also provided with a sealed pouch that, when opened, reveals instructions and a code that matches the seal tape of the yellow envelope. Once the code is confirmed as a match, the reader proceeds to open the large sealed envelope. Inside the envelope is a cover sheet and the actual book. This process helps add to the enormity and importance of the event.

     The book was built with a sheet metal cover to mimic the weight and coldness of the atomic bomb used in the attack. It was bound with metal posts, a classic military binding style. The spine was covered by leather in reference to the leather garments worn by bomber crews performing high-altitude bombing missions. Inside, the title page was developed to integrate the Rising Sun flag of imperial Japan with the Stars and Stripes of the United States.   

      The first half of the book is printed on yellowed paper to reflected aged documents from the WWII era and the page numbers count down to the detonation of the bomb. The second half is printed on a bright white linen to represent the silken, textured papers of Japan and the page numbers count upward in Roman numerals, to suggest an afterword to the event.

     Between the two sections, a fold-out spread announces "Bomb Away" following the moment in the mission timeline where the weapon was released. This is followed by a collection of pages that express the elements of the bomb blast in a variety of colors and images. The end of the book contains a small collection of "snapshot" photos which allow the reader to look at the destruction of the event from the vantage point of someone who walked the streets of Hiroshima soon after the bombing.