The new book from Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point”, among others, is “The Bomber Mafia”. While it does involve warplanes and war, it is really a highly readable story about how advocates of airpower during the First World War through World War II thought that, as Gladwell writes, the brand-new Norden bombsight “represented a dream – one of the most powerful dreams in the history of warfare: if we could drop bombs into a pickle barrel from thirty thousand feet, we wouldn’t need armies anymore. We wouldn’t need to leave young men dead on battlefields or lay waste to entire cities. We could make it precise and quick and almost bloodless. Almost”.
Certainly a dream that applies to that generation after the carnage of the First World War in the trenches and the death of almost a full generation of young men. Gladwell claims that the three most expensive undertakings of the Second World War were, firstly, the B-29 bomber, which would be used to achieve this dream, then the Manhattan Project and the atom bomb and finally this Norden bombsight project.
Gladwell in his short history discusses the fight for control of the this invention and the new bombers, and how in the end it all culminated in, in his words, “the deadliest night of the war”. What was that? Read the book and find out. Gladwell is always interesting reading, and I think you will find this tome to be so as well.
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