The Bomber Mafia - Malcolm Gladwell

The Bomber Mafia

By Malcolm Gladwell

  • Release Date: 2021-04-27
  • Genre: Military
Score: 4
From 533 Ratings


An exploration of how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

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.


  • 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?”
  • Another fascinating book

    By Amy_of_Bay_Ville
    I love pretty much everything written by Malcolm Gladwell. I like his tone and how he puts seemingly disparate events together to tell a really interesting story. I think the preface said this wasn’t social psychology and that’s not quite right. Seems like military social psychology. I just finished and an unbidden ‘oh no’ came out of my mouth. It was over in the blink of an eye. That’s my only complaint!!!
  • Way over rated.

    By trsilvius
    Several technical things are totally incorrect. If one is going to indict LaMay and the bombing, build a strong argument. The author fails to go after failure of the bomb sight and what he infers as war crimes. Two hundred pages to infer. Macomb, get a pair.
  • It’s a good read

    By JBG7474
    I enjoyed it. Gladwell’s style is pretty engaging. But in the end, I kinda wished there was more here. Finished it in one day of airplane travel.
  • A fascinating read

    By Possibly Duncan
    A captivating and well written account of how men and machines combine and the effects of this
  • Conventional Bombing WWII Well Explained

    By Professor of the Practice
    In a relatively short book, Mr. Gladwell explains the concept of conventional bombing (precision and area) as well as I have read. He avoids judgements and presentism, and he provides facts that well cited. I myself will cite “ The Bomber Mafia” in my college lectures. Excellent reading for any WWII historian.
  • Way overpriced

    By mr sterling
    This was like a long form magazine article. For 14.99$ I want my money back! MG is selling out. Avoid this book.
  • Starts out well

    By Sspeidel
    But winds up... thin.