A “truly compelling” (Good Morning America) New York Times bestseller that explores how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war—from the creator and host of the podcast Revisionist History.In The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.
Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists, the “Bomber Mafia,” asked: What if precision bombing could cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?
In contrast, the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared even more by averting a planned US invasion. In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell asks, “Was it worth it?”
Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. Hansell believed in precision bombing, but when he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the darkest night of World War II. The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.
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About the Author
Hometown:New York, NY
Date of Birth:September 3, 1963
Place of Birth:England, U.K.
Education:University of Toronto, History degree, 1984
Table of Contents
Author's Note xiv
Introduction: "This isn't working. You're out." 3
Part 1 The Dream
Chapter 1 "Mr. Norden was content to pass his time in the shop." 13
Chapter 2 "We make progress unhindered by custom." 30
Chapter 3 "He was tacking in the bond of human sympathy." 53
Chapter 4 "The truest of the true believers." 76
Chapter 5 "General Hansell was aghast." 96
Part 2 The Temptation
Author's Note 119
Chapter 6 "It would be suicide, boys, suicide." 123
Chapter 7 "If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." 146
Chapter 8 "It's all ashes - all that and that and that." 168
Chapter 8 "Improvised destruction." 187
Conclusion: "All of a sudden, the Air House would be gone, Poof." 202