Making a better World War II


Originally published at:



Sounds really interesting.


We live in the best of all possible WW2’s.


Boy, ain’t it something?


I wonder if we couldn’t do a bit better with versions of WWII?

Maybe one without the bombing of Dresden?

Or one where Germany, soundly defeated, talked Japan into not taking a couple nuclear bombings?


Why is the president talking about building more and better bombs instead of getting more use out of the ones we already have?


Pardon the sidetrack, but I’m at a loss, I’m only counting 6 before:
United States
Soviet Union (and only barely)

Spain was done long before and I certainly wouldn’t take Italy seriously, so who am I missing?


I think Ethiopia and Spain would take Italy seriously.


Some elements of Benford’s discussion remind me of Heinlein’s old story ‘Solution Unsatisfactory’. Written before the development of the atomic bomb, it was based on the idea of “dusting” population centers with highly radioactive isotopes as a nearly unstoppable weapon, and considered the question of what you do to prevent a war of mutual destruction as soon as more than one power has the weapon.

(It was not a bad concept; if that course had been followed and developed, it seems to me it might have been even worse than nuclear weapons as they developed in our timeline.)


Being able to use the bomb earlier would also mean a lot more use of the bomb, so whatever millions of lives would have been saved by using it earlier would be offset by all those killed by using so many nuclear weapons.

BTW-- maybe not specifically addressed here, but the idea that Japan surrendered because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is spurious: they surrendered because the Soviets finally declared war against Japan and were amassing troops in the Russian Far East-- the idea of a Soviet occupation was probably a lot more scary than being nuked.


I read The Berlin Project last week and enjoyed it. It’s a solid work of alternate history that is lively and mostly believable.


Even that wasn’t enough for some in Japan. There was a plot to thwart the official surrender which was stopped by a combination of poor planning and blind luck


More likely one in which Dresden was a-bombed instead of just firebombed.

The massive firebombing of German and Japanese cities was the order of the day. The use of the a-bomb grew out of that. The target list for the A-bomb was actually culled from Japanese cities which the US had not gotten around to firebombing yet. Once they were on the list of a-bomb targets, they were deliberately not firebombed until such time as the Manhattan project had an a-bomb ready to drop on them.

So, no, an earlier availability of the atom bomb would have just meant that certain German cities would have gotten the nuclear treatment instead of the conventional incendiary treatment. Ironically, the number of lives lost would probably have been lower - the a-bomb was not quite as lethal as the firebombing raids the US and Britain were conducting in Germany and Japan, which involved hundreds of planes over several days basically setting an entire city on fire.

(source: posts on the Restricted Data blog)


Conservationism is for hippie liberals.



A less-nuclear post alt-WWII might have meant less atmospheric testing, so maybe it would have been a wash. As it was, we pretty much nuked the hell out of ourselves, on purpose.

And the key to fission vs. conventional weapons is how much fewer resources it takes to deliver the firepower. In WWII, instead of scores or hundreds of aircraft per raid, one plane.


‘Solution Unsatisfactory’ is in the novel


Whats the going rate for hindsight? My NASDAQ feed is down.

There was research and development into exactly that

That would take lots of imagination indeed since Germany had literally zero influence on Japanese foreign policy.

Its far more complicated than that and the destruction of Hiroshima & Nagasaki are known to be major factors.

Ever see Japan’s Longest Day or the 2015 remake Emperor in August? Docudrama of the Kyūjō incident. The cast list of the original is basically a list of the best acting talent of 20th century Japanese cinema.


Here’s Paul Di Filippo’s review