WGBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Norman Cousins, 1986 [2]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Norman Cousins was a political journalist and nuclear disarmament and world peace advocate. In the interview he discusses his reactions to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He describes picking up the New York Times on August 6, 1945 and being shocked by the headline. He was especially surprised by the lack of a demonstration of the power of the atomic bomb, to give the Japanese an ultimatum, before it was used on human beings. He thinks that people are now trying to “rewrite history” to make it appear that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to bring the war with the Japanese to a close. He presents evidence from the papers of many leaders, proving that the war was drawing to a close without the bombings, and that the U.S. used the bombs in order to finish the war before the Soviet Union entered it, which they had agreed to do on August 15th.

License Clip
Got it
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Program Number



Interview with Norman Cousins, 1986 [2]

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

Amid the violence, fear and desperation of World War II, nuclear weapons are created and used for the first time.

“Dawn” traces the development of the first atomic bomb, from 1932 with the ominous rumblings that led to World War II and the ground-breaking scientific experiments that led to the bomb. Atomic physicist Victor Weisskopf explains, “we did not think at all that this business would have any direct connection with politics, or with humanity.” The frantic rush by American scientists who feared the Nazis were ahead of them and the first nuclear explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945 are described by eyewitnesses. Physicist Philip Morrison was ten miles away from the blast and will never forget the heat on his face. “Dawn” concludes with the failure of the first attempts to reach agreement on international control of atomic weapons after the war.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


United States
Ross, Charles G. (Charles Griffith), 1885-1950
Nuclear warfare
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
Forrestal, James, 1892-1949
Soviet Union
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Stimson, Henry L. (Henry Lewis), 1867-1950
World War II
Byrnes, James F. (James Francis), 1882-1972
Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953
Nagasaki-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Szilard, Leo
United States. Joint Chiefs of Staff
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
Marshall, George C. (George Catlett), 1880-1959
Nuclear weapons
Leahy, William D.
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Cousins, Norman (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Norman Cousins, 1986 [2],” 03/03/1986, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed January 16, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F2987D8E0A40449D804E730767B28476.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Norman Cousins, 1986 [2].” 03/03/1986. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. January 16, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F2987D8E0A40449D804E730767B28476>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Norman Cousins, 1986 [2]. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F2987D8E0A40449D804E730767B28476
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.