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The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the…

de Malcolm Gladwell

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The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell, pub. by Little, Brown, 2021, 231pp with photos. ISBN 978 0 316 29661 8

This is a discussion of the schools of though in bombing theory during the 1930s into WWII. It reads a bit like a novel and compares the personalities and motivations of the principal architects of US bombing theory (specifically Heywood Hansel) and the shift to area bombing in 1945 under LeMay.

It was interesting and quick read. Judging by his comment, the author had access to the thoughts by then current Air Force leadership and conducted research at Maxwell AFB. I kind of felt he touched the top of the story without going deeply into the story.

7/10 Would recommend as an additional source. ( )
  Slipdigit | Nov 24, 2021 |
A very engaging account, but looking into the response and analysis finds that Gladwell had over-simplified or misrepresented many points. I love a good pop history, and this one is a great listen. But as a non-expert on the subject there are too many issues that need clarifying for me to be comfortable recommending this as a work of history. ( )
  Magus_Manders | Nov 11, 2021 |
Before I read this book, I understood that there were mixed reviews of it. I have also seen the critical reviews of the book on Goodreads. That being said, I really enjoyed the book. First, I was not aware of the March 9, 1945 attack on Tokyo. When I read histories of the end of the Pacific theater war in 1945, the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are highlighted.

Second, Gladwell effectively raises the moral question of bombing civilians. The Germans did this in the battle of Britain but only strengthened the resolve of the English people. Within the US military, there were individuals who only wanted to target military, manufacturing and war supporting industries. They felt that that was the most effective and in a sense the most humane way to end a war.

To be fair, in 1945 it looked like the United States and its allies were going to have to invade Japan. That would've meant hundreds of thousands of American deaths not to mention millions of Japanese who would've died.

But let's face it, we unleashed a lot of barbarism to end the conflict.

Gladwell's book should be read by every head of state, legislators, diplomats and military leaders in every country. There really aren't a lot of ground rules when it comes to war – – barbarism inevitably occurs. Read Gladwell's description of the effects of the napalm bombing in Tokyo:

Buildings burst into flame before the fire ever reach them. Mothers ran from the fire with their babies strapped to their back's only to discover – – when they stopped to rest – – that their babies were on fire. People jumped into the canals off the Sumida River, only to drown when the tide came in or when hundreds of others jumped on top of them. People tried to hang on to steel bridges until the metal grew too hot to the touch, and they fell to their deaths.

The effects of the bombing are summarized below:

After the war, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded the following: “Probably more people lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a six hour period than at any time in the history of man." As many as 100,000 people died that night.

Some people did not “get” Gladwell’s intent. I think I got it. ( )
  writemoves | Oct 26, 2021 |
I really appreciate Malcolm Gladwell's insights and style of taking an obscure fact or story and doing a deep dive into all the related aspects and people involved. This book is one I would have never read except it was chosen by our book club, which gets us all to read out of our normal interest areas. I learned a lot about military bombing styles and how they have developed over time, some humane and some sadistic. I would rather we all stop fighting and somehow learn to get along without having to go to war and kill each other to prove a point. ( )
  Katyefk | Oct 8, 2021 |
While I thought Gladwell had some good moments in this book, it seems to be a rather short effort for such a deep topic. And I'm really not sure what the point was. Gladwell spends time talking about how the leaders of the US Strategic Bomber effort and philosophy ("The Bomber Mafia" in his words), developed their ideas, but ignores the fact that nearly every other country had similar men during the 1920's & 30's. He contrasts Haywood Hansell's vision with that of Curtis Lemay, but after describing how Hansell was relieved because he wouldn't change his tactics, goes on to criticize Lemay for making the necessary changes....I think. The last paragraphs seem to say both yes and no at the same time. Also a few obvious errors that shouldn't have existed with even minimal research, and Gladwell does boast about his research. There is also some very detailed discussions of how the Norden bombsight and napalm were created, but the discussion of tactics and strategies is missing. ( )
  Jeff.Rosendahl | Sep 21, 2021 |
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Neugarten, RobertTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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