Atomic Bomb Island tells the story of an elite, top-secret team of sailors, airmen, scientists, technicians, and engineers who came to Tinian in the Marianas in the middle of 1945 to prepare the island for delivery of the atomic bombs then being developed in New Mexico, to finalize the designs of the bombs themselves, and to launch the missions that would unleash hell on Japan. Almost exactly a year before the atomic bombs were dropped, strategically important Tinian was captured by Marines—because it was only 1,500 miles from Japan and its terrain afforded ideal runways from which the new B-29 bombers could pound Japan. In the months that followed, the U.S. turned virtually all of Tinian into a giant airbase, with streets named after those of Manhattan Island—a Marianas city where the bombs could be assembled, the heavily laden B-29s could be launched, and the Manhattan Project scientists could do their last work. Don Farrell has done this story incredible justice for the 75th anniversary. The book is a thoroughly researched, beautifully illustrated mosaic of the final phase of the Manhattan Project, from the Battle of Tinian and the USS Indianapolis to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Don A. Farrell has been researching the history of the Mariana Islands for forty years and has written ten previous books on the subject. Don is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton, a U.S. Air Force veteran, a former high school teacher, and former chief of staff to the speaker of the Guam legislature. From 2011 to 2017, he served on the board of directors of the Humanities Council of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands; during that time, he spent four years as vice-chairman of the Commonwealth’s Historic Preservation Board. Don is the Marianas historian for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours and regularly participates in its World War II tours of the Pacific and in symposia in the United States. He has lived in the Marianas since 1977 and currently resides on the island of Tinian.
Atomic Bomb Island is a triumph. It is based on extremely deep research that provides a new and vivid account of the servicemen and scientists who prepared and delivered of the atomic bombs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Tinian. It is packed with details and important insights about this vital, but little understood component of the Manhattan Project. The narrative makes many individual participants come to life and devolves into some highly fraught clashes among them that had material consequences in the course of history.
Author Don Farrell seems to have been destined to compose this well-researched, well-written history of the creation and use of the world’s first atomic bombs, a story that ultimately peaks on Tinian Island of the Marianas archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Not only has Farrell authored previous books and articles about the Mariana Islands, but also he has lived on those islands for more than forty years. Farrell successfully combines comprehensive research with a compelling, accurate, and readable narrative that should reward any reader, from amateur military history buffs to the experts.