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Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History Hardcover – February 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 291 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595583637
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583635
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Marilyn B. Young is a professor of history at New York University. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow; is the author of numerous books, including The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990; and co-edited Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam (The New Press). Yuki Tanaka is Research Professor at Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University. Since the mid-1980s he has been concentrating his research on war crimes and is the author of several books, including Japan’s Comfort Women and Hidden Horrors.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anthony J. Barrell on January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable collection of essays on various aspects of mass bombing of civilians in wartime. It has plenty of information about the strategy and tactics of aerial warfare - especially the destruction of Germany and Japan. It won't appeal to those who think anything the USA did/does to protect its interest is justifiable but anyone looking for clear, well argued analysis about this ongoing issue will find plenty to digest - it is well referenced but not written for academics only. Readers who enjoy it might like to look at Higher than Heaven (1995) by Rick Tanaka and Tony Barrell Higher Than Heaven: Japan, War and Everything
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cateni Romano on December 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be adopted in all US schools,
even if I am a bit skeptical about results !
Why US people,apparently so decent and sensible, are so indifferent to others' suf-
ferings? They dont want to know and if they
know they do not care too much.
So they repeat same 'mistakes'(=crimes ?) over
the years, covering them with same 'smoke
curtain': it is asthonishing how US leaders'
words beginning, e.g. ,last century sound
like today's ! Freedom, democracy etc. on the
one hand, BOMBS on the other.
A long chain of painful,for the 'others',
contradictions between talking and doing ,
perhaps the only real heritage from UK ancestors. At same time, congratulations to
the knowledge and courage of the Authors
producing such excellent texts: you can find
them in US and UK only, not in Europe .
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ,with less
bombs
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
This excellent collection studies British `humane bombing' in Iraq and other parts of the empire, the Japanese, German, Us and British bombing campaigns in World War Two, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the USAF and RAF's lead role in bombing civilians from the 20th to the 21st centuries, and the bombings of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan (and now Libya). It finishes with two studies, ethical and legal, of bombing civilians.

The RAF commander in Iraq in the 1920s said that bombing was `undoubtedly humane in the long run' and that it was, `beyond all argument, the most merciful course to take'. In those years, the RAF was also bombing Afghanistan, India, Yemen, Egypt and Somaliland.

In an important essay, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa argues that the Soviet entry into World War Two was `far more important' than the atomic bombing in Japan's decision to surrender.

The commanding general of the US Army Air Force said that the strategic bomber was `the most humane of all weapons'. US General Curtis LeMay boasted, "we burnt down every town in North Korea and South Korea, too." US and British forces killed possibly 3 million Korean people, mostly civilians.

During the US attack on Vietnam, the USAAF dropped 8 million tons of bombs on Indochina (compared to 2 million it dropped in all theatres in World War Two); their explosive power equaled 640 Hiroshima-size bombs. They killed between 2 and 4 million Indochinese people, again mostly civilians.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Swift on October 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'd normally be very sympathetic to a critical or at least analytical view of so called "strategic" bombing through the 20th century and beyond. It's an important topic. But, I'm sorry, this book is rubbish and not much more than a shrill screed intended to fill the heads of people like that Italian (I think) with anti-American nonsense. It makes all the right noises about being about "morality" and "history", but in truth, it's neither - it's the amateur ranting of a biased individual dressed up to look like history, not unlike Gar Alperowicz's awful "the decision to use the atomic bomb."

Oh, where do I begin?

First, the author basically redefines 'strategic bombing' as the deliberate terror bombing of civilians and then takes this sock puppet as a basis for his "ethical philosophizing." In a few isolated cases, this was doubtlessly true and there certainly cases, such as the obvious one at Dresden, where there are legitimate questions about the need and even morality of specific raids. In the case of Dresden, this was particularly true since there was already a fair bit of debate as to the need for the raid. However, for most of the work, Tanaka and co's reasoning borders on bizarre--for example, because strategic bombing by itself did not win the war in the west, he argues, then it was ineffective, and therefore immoral to have been used in Japan. Really, that's the argument. A competent and unbiased historian to say nothing of ethical philosopher would view this as a question of alternatives - for any given situation, what was the best and most ethical alternative. The authors utterly fail to do this in any serious way, and thus any discussion of the 'theory' of strategic bombing dissolves to not much of anything.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Defenestrator on September 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
FOr the record, I haven't received the book yet, but i heard a wonderful presentation by Professor Tanaka on the history of indiscriminate bombing at the University of Chicago (you can find the podcast at chiasmos.uchicago.edu). Doing what a great scholar should - bringing old/buried information to light and offering new perspectives on things. I found his presentation to be balanced, informative and provocative, and I can't wait to read the book!
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