The claim made (see e.g. Amazon.com 1-star reviews) is that it combines unacknowledged plagiarism, I think mostly from 1940s or 1950s books, with made-up detail by person(s) who misrepresented his/their qualifications and personal presence at Tinian, and on bombing runs. There also seems to have been a Hollywood link with James Cameron (of 'Titanic', 'Avatar'). The whole thing reminds me of the institutional lies about the Second World War, notably of course what became promoted as 'the Holocaust' (TM) with its attendance of liars and frauds. Many of the Amazon reviewers (who include authors of their own books on the subject) seem to think the New York Times is a reliable source.
However there may be a substratum of fact in the book, which the critics, and Pellegrino, would not recognise. The claim that Little Boy had a "mysteriously low, 10 - 12.5 kiloton yield" and the blurb comment "Almost everything we know about the bombing turns out to be wrong" and comments on USS Indianapolis and Tibbetts and Sweeney and others, suggest the book might have unearthed a few truths. It sounds like some semi-revisionist books on the 'Holocaust', puzzling for example over fake 'gas chambers' or the longevity of 'survivors' or the complete lack of an order from Hitler or the unexpected appearance of large numbers of supposedly-dead family members.
Two sample reviews - I'm hoping this is 'fair use' - to show the sort of thing at issue; plus a reply by Pellegrino--
 Amazon review by John Coster-Mullen (author of an a-bomb book) with a series of comments - some of which however contradict claims made at the time of Hiroshima, for example on 'shadow people', which Coster-Mullen considers impossible
1 out of 5 stars Extraordinary claims and fabrications., June 5, 2010
By John Coster-Mullen (Waukesha, WI) - (REAL NAME)
"I will say again, no person and no facts in this book were fabricated by me." -Charles Pellegrino
Oh really? Let's examine some specifics.
Criticism of Mr. Pellegrino's book came immediately after publication not only from members of the 509th, but from nuclear scientists and some very well-respected historians all of whom questioned many of the claims made in his book.
When writing about history, one of the first things an author should do is perform simple, basic checking of easily verifiable facts. Inexplicably, Mr. Pellegrino seemed so willing and eager to push this aside in his effort to rewrite history in a most sensationalistic manner. His so-called "knowledge" of the non-existent radiation accident on Tinian involving the Little Boy apparently began when he was back at Brookhaven, long before Joseph Fuoco dovetailed his equally fictitious accounts into that of Mr. Pellegrino's. If it wasn't so serious, his description of how Little Boy functioned is almost laughable along with his account of Luis Alvarez installing extra initiators in that weapon or for that matter Alvarez having anything whatsoever to do with the Little Boy assembly. While on Tinian, Alvarez was in charge of the team that measured bomb yield. While Mr. Pellegrino offers no historical evidence whatsoever in the form of footnotes to back these extraordinary claims, there is overwhelming documentary evidence available to refute them, including a 2010 Los Alamos Press Release.
With regard to bomb yields, once again Mr. Pellegrino hasn't done his homework. He claims that Little Boy had a "mysteriously low, 10 - 12.5 kiloton yield." The latest and most authoritative yield calculation is contained in the extensive DS02 (Dosimetry System 2002) report issued in 2002 by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF). This dosimetry reassessment was mandated and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW). It is considered by many to be the current "Gold Standard" for radiation studies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This report can be found on the Internet in just a few minutes.
According to DS02, the current best yield estimates are 16 kilotons for the Little Boy used at Hiroshima and 21 kilotons for the Fat Man used at Nagasaki. This means the yield of the Little Boy was approximately 75% that of the Fat Man; a far cry from the 1/3 claimed by Mr. Pellegrino and most certainly not a dud.
Pellegrino mentions the "shadow people" on numerous occasions. Here he merely repeats the old myth that these people had been vaporized by the intense heat produced when the Little Boy exploded over Hiroshima and all that remained were their shadows burned into stone, asphalt, and concrete. Again, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. It is quite simply a physical impossibility!
As part of the Joint U.S.-Japan Working Group, George Kerr was one of the authors of the DS02 mentioned previously. Kerr dispels this popular myth, "The thermal radiation pulses from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were very short in duration. The pulses caused horrific burns to the skin but they did not transfer sufficient energy to the body to vaporize a person." He continued, "The thermal radiation pulses were followed by the blast waves from the bombs. The blast wave probably displaced the bodies of people who produced the shadows that are often shown on the asphalt surface of a bridge so that it appeared the bodies may have been vaporized.... or they were probably removed for burial before the pictures were taken."
As contained in the 509th Press Release (available on the Internet), which was given as an exclusive to Bill Broad who first broke this story in The New York Times, "Mr. Pellegrino reserved the final insult for the end of his book. On the very last page, he quotes from an alleged 1999 letter from Tibbets to Nagasaki strike aircraft Flight Engineer John Kuharek and "cited by J.C Muller [me] at the 2005 Tinian Symposium." Pellegrino states that in this letter "Tibbets expressed his belief that after Hiroshima and the massive firebombings elsewhere, Japan was so defeated and so close to surrender that Sweeney's bomb had become redundant if not completely irrelevant, and never needed to be dropped in the first place." The letter in question quoted at this 2005 Tinian Symposium was in fact actually written in 1995 by Tibbets to historian John Coster-Mullen. This erroneous statement by Tibbets does not appear anywhere in this letter and is another complete fabrication."
This is even more troubling. Mr. Pellegrino also states on that last page 345 that Tibbets wrote in that letter about Sweeney's "indecisiveness and a failure to command." The problem here is that I wrote that as part of my speech presented during the 2005 Tinian Symposium speech. Those are my words, not Tibbets', and were lifted directly from my speech without attribution or permission by me to Mr. Pellegrino.
As Mr. Pellegrino I'm certain is fully aware, this is not "Fair Use" as defined by the US Copyright office since his book is a commercial, for-profit work and does not therefore fall under their strict definitions for "Fair Use." Not only does he fabricate statements from Tibbets along with getting the date, my name, and who the letter was written to wrong, it can be argued Mr. Pellegrino also violated US Copyright law.
It doesn't stop there. Instead of conducting his own research, Mr. Pellegrino's descriptions of the Nagasaki mission were lifted almost verbatim from the War's End book written by Charles Sweeney. Pick up a copy of both books at any library and compare them. As an example, on page 182 of Sweeney's book he wrote, "I went over to the intelligence hut. Reconnaissance photographs were providing a better view of the destruction on the ground as some of the smoke cleared. Sixty percent of Hiroshima had been laid to waste. Preliminary casualty estimates were 80,000 killed or seriously wounded." Mr. Pellegrino wrote on page 82, "Charles Sweeney was called to the Intelligence hut. According to Bad Penny's [non-existent]reconnaissance photographs, Hiroshima's activities as an industrial base had ceased. Preliminary casualty estimates were approaching 100,000 people." Note the inflated casualty figure in Mr. Pellegrino's version.
As to the accuracy of Sweeney's self-serving autobiography, Enola Gay bombardier Tom Ferebee told me in 1998, "Tibbets got through the first 60 pages of the book and was too disgusted to go any further." Ferebee was also present during a car ride in Wendover with Sweeney and Tibbets when "Paul turned around and let him have it" for a full half-hour. Ferebee added, "He just sat there and took it." Numerous 509th vets intimately familiar with what transpired told me Sweeney's book more properly belonged in the fiction category. Keep in mind Tibbets wasn't simply the Enola Gay pilot; he was commander of the 1,800 member 509th and the person who, not only hired Sweeney, but assigned him to that mission.
According to the Associated Press, the atomic bombing of Japan was the "top news story of the 20th century." Right from the beginning, newspapers around the world scrambled for every tidbit of information about this story including the names, service records, hometowns, etc. of everyone on those flights. In addition, there are plenty of books and Internet resources available that list all those names. It would have been incredibly easy for Mr. Pellegrino, or a research assistant, to verify the stories of Joseph Fuoco (none of which turned out to be true), he simply chose not to do so. To put it bluntly, Mr. Pellegrino believed Joseph Fuoco because he desperately wanted to believe his stories since they fit perfectly into Mr. Pellegrino's anti-war (according to his literary agent) book. He didn't simply let his guard down; he never had it up in the first place.
The book flap states "Almost everything we know about the bombing turns out to be wrong." Actually, it's so many of Mr. Pellegrino's descriptions that turn out to be wrong.
As I stated in another posting, if Mr. Pellegrino can't bother to sweat the small stuff, what about all those detailed, elaborate descriptions of the survivor's stories?
I could go on, but in short, this book makes some very extraordinary claims that are simply not true. As the old saying goes, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." Sadly, absolutely none of that extraordinary proof is contained in this book. If it had, perhaps this book might have been more credible.
John Coster-Mullen is the author of Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man, an Honorary Member of the 509th, and the subject of a lengthy article in the 12/15/08 issue of The New Yorker.
 Another 1-star Amazon.com review by (I think) a librarian. His main concern is that a poor quality book got a rave reception at first; an astonishingly naive attitude given the control of US publishing ---
I just read the New York Times article about the deception Mr. Pelligrino fell for--a Mr. Fuoco claiming to have flown on the bombing run on Hiroshima and also related a story about a pre-flight accident with the bomb that killed a scientist and rendered the bomb a "dud". (Some dud--70,000 people killed when it hit.)
All of this not true.
My problem here is not so much that Mr. Pelligrino wrote a bad book--anyone can do that. Or that the errors in the book amount to historical mal-practice which is deplorable as this book will be held by many libraries for many years, perhaps duping many more readers down the years.
My problem is the fact that this book got positive reviews in the mainstream press (including the NYT). I have to ask--what has gone wrong with the process of reviewing books? And backing up one step--what's gone wrong with the publishing industry that allows error-riddled books to pass muster? Doesn't the publishing industry employ copy editors and fact-checkers any more?
And who gets selected to review books like this--reviewers who obviously aren't qualified to pass judgemnet on the book's quality or accuracy? Where are the experts who could vouch for a book's accuracy--why aren't they being sought out to review books about which they are recognized subject experts? It should be a scandal.
The same thing happened last summer with the publication of Craig Nelson's book Rocket Men. It got glowing reviews in the mainstream press and he even appeared as part of a panel discussion at a NASA History Office conference celebrating the fourtieth anniversary of Apollo 11. Yet his book is full of errors of fact and, perhaps, worse, very questionable assertions (e.g.; that the Gemini Program was of limited success and it should have been more integrated into the Apollo Program --- both ludicrous assertions) both of which betray his lack of understanding of his subject.
He may have written some well crafted prose, but the demands of a good history require the author get the facts correct first and foremost.
Both of these books failed that elemental test and still got rave reviews. That's the real disgrace.
Thomas J. Frieling University of Georgia Libraries firstname.lastname@example.org
 This is C Pellegrino's reply to John Coster-Mullen on Amazon.com--
Last edited by the author on Jun 6, 2010 10:30:03 PM PDT C. Pellegrino says:
Now, not content with calling me a liar, Mr. Coster-Mullen is trying to call me a plagiarist, for having quoted something he said about the Sweeney-bashing that continues to flourish from the Tibbets camp - which Sweeny attacks continue, for all to see, in the above post.
Readers: Charles Sweeney is the pilot who (to my mind, at least), heroically flew over the target he knew was almost strictly military and which lacked Nagasaki's relatively huge civilian population. The Tibbetts camp condemns him for making three passes over a heavily defended target - through flak each time with fighters finally coming up - instead of going straight for undefended Nagasaki the moment he saw that the Kokura target area was covered with a blanket of smoke and could not be targeted on sight.
As for Little Boy's yield, even the official 509th Composite Wing website, listed the yield at 12.5 kilotons... Oh, wait a minute: Mr. Coster-Mullen, your friend Kraus accused me earlier of being a liar because that website did not exist after I referred to it below. And then Krauss got caught and had to admit it had indeed existed but disappeared under mysterious circumstances just before he used its disappearance to call me a liar... and then it turned out that a record of its existence was found and Krauss admitted that it had been his own personal website all along (nevermind the fact that you guys presented it to my former publisher as an official website of the 509th, helping to convince my publisher's non-military, non-scientist attorney [who happened to be doubling, under down-sizing, as a publicity agent], that Holt could not go forth with my book if it continued to receive such violent resistance from the website of a major U.S. veterans group).
Not for nothing, but do we not call that sort of thing a hoax? And if history serves me correctly, the site also contained some comments from some Los Alamos physicists calling me a liar, and you are again speaking of Los Alamos physicists.
And which Los Alamos scientists are we supposed to be answering to?
One of them turned out to be an impostor.
Another was either deliberately misquoting my figures and basing his criticisms upon his own misquotations, or he had serious problems with basic reading comprehension. I was accused, before non-scientist lawyer-types, of having said that the neutrinos passing through Setsuko Hirata's house and then through the earth did so in less than 14 milliseconds and that I was therefore too stupid to know that neutrinos do not travel nearly ten times faster than the speed of light. Anyone can go to the page in question (page 39) and see that I wrote "134 milliseconds." (perfectly consistent with the speed of light.)
You, too, are misquoting me. If you had read the book (even the uncorrected first edition on which you are commenting), you would have noticed that, with refgard to the shadow people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I specifically pointed out that the vast, vast majority of them did not vaporize immediately out of existence and that the real horror was even worse. Many of them survived for several days - as in the case of the boy who was tended to by Dr. Minoru Fujii''s rescue crew (the boy whose toy marbles were later found, melted by the firestorm).
In the immediate vicinity of the Dome and the T-Bridge, the visible wavelenths alone fully penetrated bodies and the top millimeters of roof tiles and granite facades melted and exploded. The air in that vicinity remained above 5 times the boiling point of water until the collapsing shock bubble lifted it away, and of course during those critical two seconds the inflow of superheated air from the surrounding radius of 200 meters would have finished what the initial heat pulse started, as the air rushed over every living thing in much the manner of a blast furnace flame. There is extensive literature on what happened to people at these same temperatures in the Herculaneum Marina (you may start with Sigurddson and Carey). For the rare minority of people located within 150 - 200 meters of the Hiroshima hypocenter and standing completely unshielded outdoors, the conditions were comparable to Herculaneum and death came within 1/20th of a second, with blood flashing to steam and the process of vaporization-carbonization reaching down to (and in the upper body, through) the bones.
As for your second accusation of plagiarism (now, of Charles Sweeney) - the sentences you describe are recounting similar historical facts (some from Sweeney, some from the now removed Mr. Fuoco). And yet you stick in your finger and pluck out an accusation of plagiarism from Sweeney going into the intelligence hut (at least we both agree that he went to the intelligence hut at that time on that day) and in Sweeney's War's End, learned that: "sixty percent of Hiroshima was laid waste." And in Last Train: "Hiroshima's activities as an industrial base had ceased." Plagiarism? In the next sentence you cite (and I am citing, after all, what Sweeney said), how we both use the words, "casualty estimates." You call the use of that phrase plagiarism - notwithstanding the fact that it's a standard phrase used by the military and fire departments from before WWII and through 9-11.
And of course, there you go again, using your often erronious complaints about the bomber-mission side of the story (a small part of the book that by the way has been thoroughly corrected for all future editions; although I'm sure you regard the addition of Robert Lewis [who looked down upon Hiroshima and said, "My God, what have we done?"] every bit as badly as you think of my lionizing Charles Sweeney) - and here's the rub: You're reveling now in misquotation and misstatement of fact to point finally at all the survivors (and the book is, after all, subtitled "The Survivors Look Back") and to suggest that people should not believe anything I have to say about them. You are saying, in effect, that the experiences of "Fr. Mattias," Tsutomu Yamaguchi, Kenshi Hirata, Sadako and Masahiro Sasaki, Hiroko Nakamoto, the Ito family, and any or all of the others are fictional stories and your message to the world is that that their messages should never be heard.
Sorry if it bothers you that I made all the corrections RE the bomber crews without taking up your offer to hire you as a paid consultant to help me write about them. As I said, the book is about the survivors and only in a few small places is it about about the 509th and the bomber crews. But of course, you would throw away the rest with a claim that if I could be wrong about the things mentioned above, "what about all those detailed, elaborate descriptions of the survivors' stories?"
I mean, why would you want their messages to be heard (and especially the idea that the world should work toward the reduction and even the total abolition of nuclear weapons)? Why, coming from a man who posted on the world internet the precise weights and measures, purities of U-235, and volumetric arrangements for how to make a Hiroshima Class nuclear weapon that would really work? That's a smart and good thing you did. (I'm being sarcastic, there. And it's also the last words I have for you, on this or any other subject.)
Charles R. Pellegrino