The international bestselling author returns with an exploration of one of the grandest obsessions of the twentieth century
'The Bomber Mafia is a case study in how dreams go awry. When some shiny new idea drops from the heavens, it does not land softly in our laps. It lands hard, on the ground, and shatters.'
In the years before the Second World War, in a sleepy air force base in central Alabama, a small group of renegade pilots put forth a radical idea. What if we made bombing so accurate that wars could be fought entirely from the air? What if we could make the brutal clashes between armies on the ground a thing of the past?
This book tells the story of what happened when that dream was put to the test. The Bomber Mafia follows the stories of a reclusive Dutch genius and his homemade computer, Winston Churchill's forbidding best friend, a team of pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard, a brilliant pilot who sang vaudeville tunes to his crew, and the bomber commander, Curtis Emerson LeMay, who would order the bloodiest attack of the Second World War.
In this tale of innovation and obsession, Gladwell asks: what happens when technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war? And what is the price of progress?
A parable written for the age of technological disruption . . . brilliantly told -- James McConnachie * Sunday Times * Remarkable . . . a work of art . . . one puts this book down shaking one's head at the folly and human cost of it all -- Paul Kennedy * Wall Street Journal * Gripping . . . in Gladwell's deft hands, the Air Force generals of World War II come back to life as the stirring 20th-century equivalent of Adm. Horatio Nelson and his band of audacious captains from the age of fighting sail . . . Gladwell is a wonderful storyteller -- Thomas E. Ricks * The New York Times * Impassioned . . . engagingly written -- Saul David * Telegraph * Riveting . . .The Bomber Mafia looks at one of the greatest moral challenges of the Second World War -- Michael Lewis * author of The Fifth Risk * Told with the muscular, driving narrative and fizzingly charismatic (real-life) characters of a movie -- Ed Grenby * Radio Times * A thought-provoking, accessible account of how people respond to difficult choices in difficult times . . . Gladwell's easy conversational style works well . . . his portraits of individuals are compelling -- Diana Preston * Washington Post * Unexpected empathy . . . fabulistic energy * Esquire * Lively, engaging . . . a fascinating story -- Gerard DeGroot * The Times * Important and characteristically readable . . . Gladwell is possibly the most confident storyteller in non-fiction. He always knows exactly where he is going, and he takes you with him in pleasure and comfort. -- Simon Kuper * New Statesman *