What could be more American than Lemay’s story, a brown, cigar-chewing Ohioan who made his way through a state university by working in a night shift at a foundry? He was hardly a theorist, and there was no one in particular to make war more humane. Instead of LeMay, the words were Military historian conrad crane, “Air Force’s Final Problem Solver.” As Gladwell points out, the practical problem was how to win the war as quickly as possible. LeMay’s solution was to saturate Tokyo with napalm bombs that killed more than 100,000 people in about six hours, and then to leave and firebomb dozens of other Japanese cities, killing thousands, sometimes Assume when target cities were few or no military. This cruel approach may have helped end the war, but there is no question that it was terrible.
A skill of Gladwell enables us to see the world through our subjects. For most people, a city park is a grace note, a green space that makes urban life more vibrant. To bombard experts, park nettles are “firebricks” that interfere with the combustibility of a target city. In two of the most memorable lines of 20th-century American poetry, Randall Jerel captured LeMay’s silly savage approach:Among the girls named bombers, we burned down the cities we learned about in school. ”
A novelty of this book is that Gladwell states that it began as an audiobook and then became a transcription, reversing the normal process. It is indeed a communicative act, at times almost blatantly, when he reports that there is a heartbreaking talk about “a psychologist”, which a member of a couple will often say when the other dies – That some part of him has died along with his partner. “However, this gossip style also takes note of some important historical questions.
Gladwell is a wonderful narrator. “The Bomber Mafia” is gaining momentum as he introduces the characters and shows them in conflict. I thoroughly enjoyed this short book, and I would be happy if it lasted twice as long. But when Gladwell made the leap to provide brilliant assessments, or take extensive lessons of history from different events, he cautioned me. Those big findings seemed unbalanced to me. Was Henry Stimson, Franklin Roosevelt Secretary of War, really “responsible, more than anyone, for the extraordinary war machine that the United States built in the early years of World War II”? It is fairly certain that General George C. Others, such as Marshall, were equally important, but Gladwell simply dismisses the claim about Stimson and hurries at him. Another example: Gladwell called Tokyo’s firebombing on March 9 and 10, 1945, “the longest night of the war”. This unfortunate phrase, this unproven exaggeration, is repeated in the vague subtitles of the book. I immediately thought, oh yeah? What about the sailor whose ship is torpedoed and who hangs from the rubble in the water with no chance of rescue? Or a mine soldier whose friend is bleeding? What of the infinitely long nights of millions of concentration camp prisoners?
Gladwell argues that LeMay’s barbaric firebombing campaign was successful, and subsequently, combined with two atomic bombs, shortened the war. “Curtis Lemay’s approach brought everyone – Americans and Japanese – to peace and prosperity as soon as possible,” he writes. Had the war been prolonged in the winter of 1945–46, he would have known that millions of Japanese could have died of starvation.