World War II
The Final Blow

The Final Blow
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.99

     challenging words:    invasion, payload, civilian, bombings, prolong, ultimatum, leadership, warfare, atomic, blockade, emperor, nuclear, naval, unthinkable, military, radiation
     content words:    Pacific Ocean, United States, Allied Forces, United Kingdom, Manhattan Project, New Mexico, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, World War II, Vice President Harry S., Pearl Harbor

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The Final Blow
By Jane Runyon

1     Japan was being soundly beaten by the Allies. More than 100,000 Japanese soldiers had been killed on Okinawa. They held no air bases, naval bases, or supply depots in the Pacific Ocean. The only goal they had left was to protect their home islands from invasion. Civilian leaders of the country wanted to discuss a peace treaty with the United States and Europe. The military vowed to fight until the last Japanese soldier was dead. The people of Japan didn't know what to do. They were frightened by the thought of an invasion by Allied forces. They would be put in the middle of a battle zone. Allied planes had been firebombing Japanese cities since February of 1945. Over 100,000 Japanese citizens had lost their lives in these bombings. They knew an invasion would be long and cost many more civilian lives.
2     The Allied Forces, led by the United States, had to make a serious decision. They were also aware of the high cost an invasion of the Japanese islands would bring. It would prolong the war by perhaps another year. Battles and a blockade of materials and food brought into the islands could raise the Japanese death toll to well over one million. They estimated that at least 100,000 more Allied soldiers could lose their lives. No one wanted to see these possibilities take place.
3     There was one option open to the Allies that was almost unthinkable. The United States, with the help of the United Kingdom and Canada, had been working on a secret project. This was called the Manhattan Project. They had created a nuclear bomb. Nuclear energy is formed when atoms are split apart and the energy is released. When this was done in a very scientific way, massive energy was released that was greater than any explosive that had ever been known before. No one was quite sure what the consequences of exploding such a bomb would be. Some people feared that the heat would be so high that the atmosphere might be set on fire. Some feared that the radiation released by the explosion might kill all living things on Earth. The atomic bomb was tested once. Scientists conducted this test in the desert in New Mexico.

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World War II
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