The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb, by John Ray Skates, University of South Carolina Press, 1994, 276 pages, Hardcover, Maps, Photo's, Charts, Notes, Bibliography, Index The end of the Pacific War remains one of the most controversial aspects of the Allied decision making to this day. Mr. Skates attempts to bring some clarity to one element of this dispute, namely the proposed invasion of Japan. He examines the genesis, evolution and final planning (as to the point when the Atomic Bombs were deployed) of the joint Army-Navy operations known. as Olympic and Coronet. What may not be understood by most casual history buff's is that planning for the military defeat of Japan began well before Pearl Harbor and can trace its linage to the early 1920's. To be fair Japan also was thinking on how to defeat western power's, Primarily the US from this same period. Both Tokyo and Washington saw the other as it's primary foe in the Pacific and eventually a showdown must inevitably come to pass. At first This a all Navy affair. The USN would steam west, engage the Imperial Japanese Navy in one or more decisive battles destroying Japan's fleet before taking up station blockading the Home Islands until they saw the writing on the wall and sued for peace. There was no place for the Army save as garrison troops on any islands taken on the march west. As the 1920's gave way to the '30's the Navy was forced to modify this approach. The need to augment Army forces in the Philippine's so that it could remain a viable jumping off spot, the extent of Japanese prewar conquest's and the advent of the value of long range aviation all conspired to give the Army a junior partner role in planning replacing its previous position as a coat holder for the Navy. This was seen as a complement rather than a revolution to existing plans. The Navy would still run the show. The actual war would greatly alter these plans. By 1944 the Army would have a commander of near equal stature to Nimitz commanding the US Pacific Fleet. Japan would also demonstrate a near fanatical desire to defend any portion of her empire to the proverbial last man and bullet. Hopes that Japanese leaders would be reasonable and see 'the writing on the wall' were fast dwindling MacArthur and Nimitz went ahead with a actual boots on the ground invasion plan. One, that had it been executed, would have dwarfed D-Day not once but two times over for both operations. Skates looks at both US and Japanese plans in great detail and I was struck how each mirrored the other. Post war observers were so concerned that they spent time looking for security leaks by questioning surviving Japanese military planners on this topic but the truth was they were not fools and had come to understand US tendencies all to well. There were some shocks for me as well. The plan to relocate European forces to the Pacific, which had began so well was by the time of Hiroshima, was severely breaking down. This would not have affected Olympic, but the latter stages of Coronet might have become embarrassing had Japan not surrendered on the America's timetable. Finally the aspect of battle casualties is explored and the disparity of those quoted by post war political leaders. Most Military estimates (Army, Navy, Joint Army-Navy) saw 100,00 to 150,000 casualties for each operation going out to a maximum of 120 days from the first landing on the Home Islands which corresponds to the oft quoted '250,000' that is so critical to those who decry the use of the Bomb and contrast so completely with Churchill's 500,000 and Truman's 1 million. This is still room for some ambiguity as Military estimates call for Japan to surrender on America's timetable and only project out to about 120 days after Olympic and 90 days after Coronet. A two to 3 month gap between operations do not seem to be factored, nor does any operations after the conquest of the Tokyo plain. I am not sure this will changes anyone's carved in stone opinions, it did not mine, but it did offer hard facts to better understand the invasion option. I strongly recommend this book to those who choose to argue the matter. .