Sixty-six years ago this week, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that made the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable. We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting today, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, I will be offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Tomorrow we will revisit the Potsdam Declaration, Truman’s demand for “unconditional surrender” (but after the use of the bombs, we accepted a major condition, allowing the Japanese to keep their emperor). I will be doing this at my own blog but if feedback is positive here, I will continue it at The Nation as well.

Here is what Truman wrote in his diary on this day sixty-six years ago. It followed by about a week the first test of the atomic device at Trinity. Note that he twice insists (or fools himself) that the bombs will only be used on “military” targets and not against “women and children.” In fact, the two bombs were deliberately dropped directly over two cities to cause maximum damage. Only a few hundred Japanese military personnel were killed in Nagasaki, and 90 percent of the deaths in Hiroshima were civilian. Then, as my book shows, the United States suppressed key film footage revealing the true civilian toll.

Truman wrote:

We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.

Anyway we ‘think’ we have found the way to cause a disintegration of the atom. An experiment in the New Mexico desert was startling – to put it mildly. Thirteen pounds of the explosive caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater 6 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter, knocked over a steel tower 1/2 mile away and knocked men down 10,000 yards away. The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more.

This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new.

He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I’m sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler’s crowd or Stalin’s did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.

Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.