The story is about a small group of pilots and planners in the Army Air Corps (predecessor of the Air Force) who dreamed of inventing a new, cleaner, less murderous warfare through precision bombing. In World War II, over the skies of Europe and the Pacific, the vision of this “Bomber Mafia” collided with the stark realities of war and lost, leading most notably to the brutal destruction of Dresden and the fire-bombing of Tokyo, the results of which are shown here.
Gladwell introduces us to the hopeful, idealistic Bomber Mafia and recounts their battle with the greatest bomber of them all, General Curtis LeMay, who did whatever was needed to win. (In Vietnam, he doubled down on this strategy and lost.)
It’s an unlikely topic for a story, but Gladwell succeeds brilliantly. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to investigate his podcast and other audio books.
More about The Bomber Mafia