Book Tracker 12
The Bomber Mafia
By Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is a phenomenal author and podcaster. I love how his most recent audiobooks have been more podcast-like than someone just reading the book. This book is unique in that it was an audiobook before it became a print book. The foundation of this book came mostly from Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History. He did three or four episodes on General Curtis Lemay. His deep dive into Lemay’s story led him to learn all about the Bomber Mafia in the 1930s and 1940s. This was a group of men who believed in the value of strategic bombing rather than conventional warfare.
The book goes into detail about who the major members of the Bomber Mafia were and outlines their successes and failures. Ultimately it took until the 1990s and beyond for some of the ideas of the Bomber Mafia to truly become reality.
General Curtis Lemay was not part of the Bomber Mafia but was the General who probably brought WWII to an end sooner rather than later as he engineered and conducted a fire bombing campaign of Japan in order to avoid a ground assault which inevitably would’ve resulted in many more deaths and the prolongment of WWII. Lemay was a doer not a thinker. The man he replaced in command of the Air Attacks in the Pacific Theater was a thinker and philosopher and member of the Bomber Mafia—General Hayward Hansel.
Hansel was a true believer in precision bombing and continuously tried precision bombing attacks but the technology just wasn’t there at the time. His ideas and dedication though led to the development of the technology that allows us now to have precision strikes thereby causing less damage to lives and property.
This is a fascinating read if you like military history, and it’s an interesting read if you like psychology as it discusses the differences between Lemay and Hansel and their psychological makeups. One quote from the book really stood out to me. “Without persistence principles are meaningless, because one day your dream may come true. And if you can not keep that dream alive in the interim then who are you?” To understand the context of this statement, I’d read the book 🙂