The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War

The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War Review

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, 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.

Title:The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War
Edition Language:English

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    The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War Reviews

  • Regina

    Malcolm Gladwell has a brand new book, and it’s different than his previous ones. You can easily tell this by its vibrant ocean-blue cover, which is quite a departure from the text-on-white-backgrou...

  • Paul

    (3.5 stars.) Probably Gladwell's weakest book -- the narrative itself is engaging, but the themes/ideas are confused and muddled, as ultimately the two schools of thought (LeMay the pragmatist vs. Han...

  • Leftbanker

    Malcolm Gladwell Must Be Stopped!To begin with, I don’t buy the idea of “Bomber Mafia” as the term “mafia” had yet to enter into the common vernacular of American English really until The Go...

  • David C Ward

    A glib and anecdotal gesture at understanding the practical and moral issues of aerial bombing. There are many better and deeper studies of both issues. It doesn’t give a cogent summary of air force...

  • Nate

    Got an advance copy of Bomber Mafia through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you, Goodreads!I'll be thinking about this book for a while. It was a very different type of Malcolm Gladwell book, yet it is pe...

  • Tony Romine

    Malcolm Gladwell's latest book is about strategic bombing done during WW2 by the US and its effectiveness as a wartime tactic. If you think for one second this is a subject I would ever spend more tha...

  • Tim Joseph

    LeMay and Hansell were absolute beasts; as was this book. Well researched and told with a clear voice this is the story of the undercurrent of an ideal that directly led to saved lives, a quicker war,...

  • Christopher Wallace

    I listened to the audiobook. It was an excellent use of the medium with interview audio clips and sound effects. Not the authors most compelling work, but very good compared to most military history b...

  • Peter

    Malcolm Gladwell mines academic research on technology, social sciences and crunches it to bring a rendition to the public eye. Among his popular early books are The Tipping Point (2000), Blink (2005)...

  • Jenifer

    I probably wouldn’t have so excitedly selected a book on this subject matter if it was written by another author, but I knew I’d love anything read by Malcolm Gladwell, and I wasn’t disappointed...