... quietly amusing ... Mr. Mitchell’s narrative is two-pronged: wry amusement at MGM’s fumbling of a potentially fascinating story, and residual anger with the conventional wisdom that Harry Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shortened World War II and saved American lives. Regarding the former: The creation of the atomic bomb is an extremely dense subject that’s intrinsically difficult to dramatize for a mass audience, as was proved in 1989 with another unsuccessful movie on the same subject called Fat Man and Little Boy, wherein a padded Paul Newman played Groves and an egregiously miscast Dwight Schultz played Oppenheimer. As for the latter: Historians will be arguing about the decision to deploy atomic bombs for as long as their occupation exists. From a dramatic standpoint, however, it’s always seemed obvious that the decision was, in some manner, intended as vivid retribution for the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Mitchell remains devoted to examining the U.S.'s moral defense for its deadly actions against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but he never misses a chance to expose the comedy provided by his book's many theatrically outsize characters. Surely Mitchell's offering would make a much better movie than MGM's big-budget dud.
Mitchell uses his sharp investigative reporting skills to unearth this detailed, behind-the-scenes story about Hollywood’s first movie on the atomic bomb ... Excellent research and rich dialogue give Mitchell’s book a novelistic flair as he recounts the battles between MGM and the military over actor choices, deletions, revisions, and retakes concerning fact vs. fiction, with the military and the White House usually winning ... Reel film meets real history in this scintillating tale.