The Bomber Mafia - Malcolm Gladwell

The Bomber Mafia

By Malcolm Gladwell

  • Release Date: 2021-04-27
  • Genre: History
Score: 4
From 862 Ratings


Dive into this “truly compelling” (Good Morning America) New York Times bestseller that explores how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war—from the creator and host of the podcast Revisionist History.
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.


  • Finished Quickly

    By Egurlie
    This is what I considered a quick read. I flew through this book lol. However, I also went through this book so quickly because I’m fascinated with military history. Great read nonetheless.
  • Good book

    By hmshector
    I read this during the final season of attack on titan. LeMay firebombing Japan indiscriminately is very reminiscent to an event in that series. As usual Gladwell delivers a masterpiece.
  • Great story but too expensive

    By Gibby226
    Great subject, and well told and would have been 5 stars, but $14.99 for 134 pages seems a little steep
  • The art of bombing.

    By non-fiction reader
    Once again Gladwell reveals something many people never knew. The art and morality of bombing cities and targets Is brought to life in The Bomber Mafia.
  • Birth of Modern War

    By Richard Bakare
    Though this effort represents a wholly different subject matter than his usual social psychology, this book proves that Malcolm Gladwell is the master of painting context in the clearest brush strokes. He does not lose any of his penchant for deep psychological inquiry into his subject and this one is particularly all consuming. I am no fan of war, but psychology of the decision making of those who run them and the ramifications were still feeling today are engrossing. The book is more than a look at the beginning of modern war, it serves as a critical analysis of how we come to certain beliefs and how we hold steadfastly to them even in the face of overwhelming counter evidence. A sort of look into cult like fanatical reverence for a particular view that drives the ethos of a group. Visualize Apple with its “Think Different” approach, or Toyota with its Six Sigma manufacturing precision, or Disney and its fun factory obsession. Each of these institutions start with an idea, a germ, that sometimes takes decades to see realized. That is the heart of this book. Like in Nolan’s Inception, Gladwell shows how an idea can take a root amongst a fiercely passionate founding group and grow into the standard operating procedure for every major army on the planet. The subject of war is disheartening, but for this instant it serves the purpose of illuminating the broader picture of how the best ideas can win out along a long enough timeline.
  • In this hodgepodge Malcolm makes a case for

    By rdbiker1
    1. All war is madness 2. Try to win a war as quickly as possible regardless of how many innocents lose their lives 3. Conduct war from the moral high ground and reduce all collateral damage. He’s clearly got both feet planted firmly in the air.
  • Thought-provoking read that gives serious pause.

    By Swany #1
    Thought-provoking read that gives serious pause.
  • Awesome book.

    By Cc55041
    Awesome book as always Gladwell masterfully tells the story.
  • The Bomber Mafia

    By patmac1953
    Another great Gladwell tome. Always insightful into the human condition and mindset. The insanity of war contrasted with the vagaries of mankind’s dilemmas.
  • AirPower & Ethics

    By J. Fix
    Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Bomber Mafia” examines the inception and necessity of the B-29 Superfortress during WWII, woven with the differentiating operational approaches of then U.S. Army Air Force Generals Curtis LeMay and Haywood Hansell. By books end, the fundamental question must be asked, “Does the end justify the means?”