Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World

Version: Unabridged
Author: Mitch Weiss , Chris Wallace
Narrator: Chris Wallace
Genres: History, Military
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published In: June 2020
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 10 hours
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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER * “Riveting.” —The New York Times * “Propulsive.” —Time * “Reads like a tense thriller.” —The Washington Post * “The book is deservedly the nonfiction blockbuster of the season.” —The Wall Street Journal

From Chris Wallace, the veteran journalist and anchor of Fox News Sunday, comes an electrifying behind-the-scenes account of the 116 days leading up to the American attack on Hiroshima.

April 12, 1945: After years of bloody conflict in Europe and the Pacific, America is stunned by news of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. In an instant, Vice President Harry Truman, who has been kept out of war planning and knows nothing of the top-secret Manhattan Project to develop the world’s first atomic bomb, must assume command of a nation at war on multiple continents—and confront one of the most consequential decisions in history. Countdown 1945 tells the gripping true story of the turbulent days, weeks, and months to follow, leading up to August 6, 1945, when Truman gives the order to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

In Countdown 1945, Chris Wallace, the veteran journalist and anchor of Fox News Sunday, takes readers inside the minds of the iconic and elusive figures who join the quest for the bomb, each for different reasons: the legendary Albert Einstein, who eventually calls his vocal support for the atomic bomb “the one great mistake in my life”; lead researcher J. Robert “Oppie” Oppenheimer and the Soviet spies who secretly infiltrate his team; the fiercely competitive pilots of the plane selected to drop the bomb; and many more.

Perhaps most of all, Countdown 1945 is the story of an untested new president confronting a decision that he knows will change the world forever. Truman’s journey during these 116 days is a story of high drama: from the shock of learning of the bomb’s existence, to the conflicting advice he receives from generals like Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Marshall, to wrestling with the devastating carnage that will result if he gives the order to use America’s first weapon of mass destruction.

But Countdown 1945 is more than a book about the atomic bomb. It’s also an unforgettable account of the lives of ordinary American and Japanese civilians in wartime—from “Calutron Girls” like Ruth Sisson in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to ten-year-old Hiroshima resident Hideko Tamura, who survives the blast at ground zero but loses her mother and later immigrates to the United States, where she lives to this day—as well as American soldiers fighting in the Pacific, waiting in fear for the order to launch a possible invasion of Japan.

Told with vigor, intelligence, and humanity, Countdown 1945 is the definitive account of one of the most significant moments in history.

Reviews (3)


Written by Donald W. on August 8th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 3/5

A tale well told, though the topic has been extensively examined and the decision hotly debated from the moment it was acted upon. The personal details surrounding those directly involved in the project and in the mission itself are quite interesting and were new to me. But By far the controversial and compelling aspect of Truman’s determination to my mind has always been whether there was some way to communicate to the Japanese the awesome dispositive destructive power of the weapon without decimating Hiroshima and exterminating its populace. In Wallace’s telling, the discussion of the analysis of those alternatives is a bit skimpy. reciting in rote fashion that there were those who advocated such an approach and that it was rejected because we weren’t sure the bomb would work and because such a failure would only embolden the Japanese to fight on to the bitter end. But wasn’t the belief that they would do so regardless the animating assumption for dropping the bomb rather than pressing for a surrender? If so, in what way would it’s failure to perform as intended leave us any worse off? Could we not have considered filming the test, delivering the evidence only if it worked? In the end, these questions not analyzed but merely posed in what amounts to a detailed journal of events leading up to and surrounding what is surely the most momentous single event of the 20th century.


Written by Mark Y. on July 26th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Very interesting story lots of facts

Written by Robert Clarke on July 5th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I have read so many books about the war in the Pacific and this was one of my favorites. Of course it was not as detailed as some of the works by Tillman, Toland, et al. but had many interesting facts and flowed very well.

Author Details

Author Details

Weiss, Mitch

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, a husband and wife storytelling team, are recognized nationally as experts at teaching children and adults the art of storytelling. Since 1980 they have been performing and leading workshops together as "Beauty and the Beast Storytellers" throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Wallace, Chris

Chris Wallace is the anchor of Fox News Sunday, Fox Broadcasting's Sunday morning public affairs program. He joined Fox News in 2003. In his sixteen years at Fox, Wallace has covered almost every major political event, and he has interviewed U.S. and world leaders, including seven American presidents. Wallace was the first journalist from Fox News to moderate a general election presidential debate in October 2016. Throughout his fifty-plus years in broadcasting, Wallace has won every major broadcast news award for his reporting, including three Emmy Awards, the Dupont-Columbi