Lesson Plans for Secondary School Educators
Unit Eight: War and Peace in Middle-earth
"So Horrifying One Is Stunned"
This paragraph is excerpted from a letter J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his son on August 9, 1945. On that day an atomic bomb devastated the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing as many as 75,000 people outright. Three days earlier another such weapon had visited an equal measure of destruction on Hiroshima.
The news today about "Atomic bombs" is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world! Such explosives in men's hands, while their moral and intellectual status is declining, is about as useful as giving out firearms to all inmates of a gaol and then saying that you hope "this will ensure peace". But one good thing may arise out of it, I suppose, if the write-ups are not overheated: Japan ought to cave in. Well we're in God's hands. But He does not look kindly on Babel-builders.
(from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Houghton Mifflin, 1981, page 116)
Unit Eight Content
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