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The Bomber Mafia

A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War

Malcolm Gladwell

Hardcover

List Price: 27.00*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover, Large Print (4/27/2021)

Description

An exploration of how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war

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 had a different view. This “Bomber Mafia” asked: What if precision bombing could, just by taking out critical choke points—industrial or transportation hubs—cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?
 
In his podcast, Revisionist History, Gladwell reexamines moments from the past and asks whether we got it right the first time. In TheBomber Mafia, he steps back from the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war and asks, “Was it worth it?” The attack was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost tens of thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared more by averting a planned US invasion.
 
Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. As a key member of the Bomber Mafia, Hansell believed in precision bombing, but his theories had been foiled by bad weather, enemy jet fighters, and human error. 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.

Little, Brown and Company, 9780316296618, 256pp.

Publication Date: April 27, 2021



About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, including Talking to Strangers, David and Goliath, Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point. The Bomber Mafia began as episodes of his podcast, Revisionist History, and the production team behind that show also produced the audiobook edition. Gladwell is cofounder and president of Pushkin Industries, an audiobook and podcast production company. He was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York.