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The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and…

The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the… (vuoden 2021 painos)

– tekijä: Malcolm Gladwell (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1375154,498 (3.91)3
Teoksen nimi:The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War
Kirjailijat:Malcolm Gladwell (Tekijä)
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2021), 256 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War (tekijä: Malcolm Gladwell)


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näyttää 5/5
The Second World War was just that, fought across the globe and in different arenas. Enterprising militaries thought that fighting the war completely from the air was a way to save lives and conclude war quickly and so they envisioned accurate and devastating bombing. How this came about and how it still didn't stop massive loss is a moral tale for today
I am a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and was excited to read this short but very entertaining book. As ever the research is top notch and the philosophical approach really work here where the discussion turns on life and death. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 18, 2021 |
The deadliest raid of WWII, what led up to it and who was involved. This was a stunning but entertaining audio books, one I probably wouldn't have picked up if it wasn't written by Gladwell. Just not a subject I seem out, nor do I think I would have liked it as much had I read. The Audio features music, sound effects, spoken archival interviews, even one by Ronald Reagan and Gladwell's voice was perfect for the narration.

Norden, LeMay, the Air force, DuPont, a full range of characters that invented ways to make war more effective, with the hope that this war would be the last. Highlights how technological advances are often used in ways they were not meant. Limited in scope, short in play time, I found this thought provoking. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jun 8, 2021 |
If Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about cardboard boxes, I would buy it. He could write about paint drying and make it interesting. I think every non-fiction author wants to grow up to be Malcolm Gladwell. This is a man who is a master storyteller — and his latest book is no exception. The Bomber Mafia of the title was a group of men serving in what eventually became the United States Air Force. Following on the First World War, which saw the first use of heavier-than-air craft, the first dogfights, the first aerial bombardment of cities, they had a dream. Their dream was that using new technology like the Norden bombsight, bombs could be dropped precisely where needed. There would be no need to kill civilians, armies would not need to clash on the battlefield, and wars would be waged quickly and cleanly with minimal loss of life. Of course it was an absurd idea, but it was tested in practice by the Americans during their air wars in Europe against Nazi Germany and in the Pacific against Imperial Japan. They discovered that their vision was an illusion. It didn’t work. Eventually, the most outspoken of the Bomber Mafia crowd, Haywood Hansell, found himself without a job. His replacement, commanding a fleet of B-29 bombers that could reach Japan, was General Curtis LeMay. LeMay decided to deploy a new technology, napalm, which did the opposite of what the visionaries had in mind. Instead of precision attacks on Japanese war industries — which proved to be nearly impossible — LeMay took advantage of the fact that Japanese civilians lived in densely packed neighbourhoods in houses made of wood. He launched raids that were specifically designed to create firestorms in those cities, causing incredible levels of devastation — and the loss of many thousands of lives. From LeMay’s point of view, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the icing on the cake: the war had been won, he believed, by his bombers setting Japanese cities, including Tokyo, ablaze. An incredible story, told brilliantly – highly recommended. ( )
  ericlee | Apr 30, 2021 |
Meh. This should have been a podcast episode, or a *short* New Yorker story. Gladwell blows it up into a short book by adding a little filler material, and a lot of excess verbosity.

It is a good story, even if it is only very shallowly told, I guess without much research. We never learn anything about the Norden bombsight, for example, despite its centrality to the story. The Wikipedia article goes into far more detail.

Gladwell has a thesis, but the story doesn't support it. Oddly, he doesn't even seem to try to support it. He just states the thesis repeatedly. I like when historians try to find meaning in their history, even if it is debatable. But in this case, I don't know what to think, Gladwell's approach is so bizarre.

> In America, at the Air Corps Tactical School, the Bomber Mafia dreamed of a world where bombs were used with dazzling precision. Lindemann went out of his way to promote the opposite approach—and the only explanation Snow could come up with is personal. Lindemann was just a sadist. He found it satisfying to reduce the cities of the enemy to rubble: “About him there hung a kind of atmosphere of indefinable malaise. You felt that he didn’t understand his own life well, and he wasn’t very good at coping with the major things. He was venomous; he was harsh-tongued; he had a malicious, sadistic sense of humor, but nevertheless you felt somehow he was lost.”

> The most important fact about Carl Norden, the godfather of precision bombing, is not that he was a brilliant engineer or a hopeless eccentric. It’s that he was a devoted Christian. As historian Stephen McFarland puts it, You might wonder, if he thought he was being in service to humanity, why he would develop sights to help people drop bombs. And the reason was because he was a true believer that by making bombing accuracy better, he could save lives.

> So LeMay said, Let’s try it. Let’s fly in straight. A seven-minute-long, straight and steady approach. And if that sounded suicidal—which it did to all his pilots—he added, I’m going to be the first to try it. In a 1942 bombing run over Saint-Nazaire, France, LeMay led the way. He took no evasive action. And what happened? His group put twice as many bombs on the target as any group had before. And they didn’t lose a single bomber.

> In his memoir, Hitler’s minister of armaments and war production, Albert Speer, provides a detailed account of the Schweinfurt missions and what he calls “the enemy’s error.” He notes: “The attacks on the ball-bearing industry ceased abruptly. Thus, the Allies threw away success when it was already in their hands. Had they continued the attacks…with the same energy, we would quickly have been at our last gasp."

> The first step was building the B-29 Superfortress, the greatest bomber ever built, with an effective range of more than three thousand miles. The next step was capturing a string of three tiny islands in the middle of the western Pacific: Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. They were the Mariana Islands, controlled by the Japanese. The Marianas were 1,500 miles across the water from Tokyo

> Over the course of the war, how many American planes do you think crashed while trying to navigate over the Hump? Seven hundred. The flying route was called “the aluminum trail” because of all the debris scattered over the mountains.

> The only way they could get gasoline to Chengdu was by flying the Hump. Sometimes, if they had a headwind, it took twelve gallons of a B-29’s gasoline to bring one gallon over the Hump.

> Hottel first tried British thermite bombs, which were favored by the RAF commander Arthur Harris in his night raids on Germany. They compared those results with those of Hershberg and Fieser’s napalm, packed inside bombs that went by the name M69.

> At one point, in late December, the second in command of the entire Army Air Forces, Lauris Norstad, gave Hansell a direct order: launch a napalm attack on the Japanese city of Nagoya as soon as possible. It was, in Norstad’s words, “an urgent requirement for planning purposes.” Hansell did a trial run and burned down a paltry three acres of the city. Then he grimaced, shrugged, delayed, promising to do something bigger at some point, maybe, when his other work was finished.

> Then Norstad turned to Hansell, completely out of the blue, and said: You’re out. Curtis LeMay’s taking over.

> Jet stream plus heavy cloud cover means low. Low means night. And the decision to switch to night raids means you can’t do precision bombing anymore

> One of LeMay’s pilots once said that when he confessed his fears to LeMay, LeMay replied: “Ralph, you’re probably going to get killed, so it’s best to accept it. You’ll get along much better.”

> After the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945, Curtis LeMay and the Twenty-First Bomber Command ran over the rest of Japan like wild animals. Osaka. Kure. Kobe. Nishinomiya. LeMay burned down 68.9 percent of Okayama, 85 percent of Tokushima, 99 percent of Toyama—sixty-seven Japanese cities in all over the course of half a year. In the chaos of war, it is impossible to say how many Japanese were killed—maybe half a million. Maybe a million. On August 6, the Enola Gay, a specially outfitted B-29, flew from the Marianas to Hiroshima and dropped the world’s first atomic bomb. Yet LeMay kept going.

> LeMay’s firebombing campaign unfolded with none of that deliberation. There was no formal plan behind his summer rampage, no precise direction from his own superiors. To the extent that the war planners back in Washington conceived of a firebombing campaign, they thought of hitting six Japanese cities, not sixty-seven. By July, LeMay was bombing minor Japanese cities that had no strategically important industry at all—just people, living in tinderboxes

> this Japanese historian believed: no firebombs and no atomic bombs, and the Japanese don’t surrender. And if they don’t surrender, the Soviets invade, and then the Americans invade, and Japan gets carved up, just as Germany and the Korean peninsula eventually were.

> The Bomber Mafia: Harold George (above left), Donald Wilson (above right), Ira Eaker, and others were convinced that precision bombing, aimed at crucial choke points of the enemy’s supply chain, could win wars entirely from the air. ( )
  breic | Apr 29, 2021 |
Basically, air power proponents were like surgeons ("cure anything and everything with a knife") and bombing proponents like neurosurgeons ("fixing God's mistakes and better than any other surgical branch"). Pretty much the history of how the military went from ground wars to air wars and theoretically narrowing the drop zones of bombs (pipe dreams). It is well researched and focuses on several specific mechanical engineers and physicists, especially those who appear lost to history.
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley. Thank you. ( )
  jetangen4571 | Apr 3, 2021 |
näyttää 5/5
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