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  • The Bomber Mafia

  • A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War
  • Written by: Malcolm Gladwell
  • Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
  • Length: 5 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (927 ratings)

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The Bomber Mafia

Written by: Malcolm Gladwell
Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
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Publisher's Summary

In The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War, Malcolm Gladwell, author of New York Times best sellers including Talking to Strangers and host of the podcast Revisionist History, uses original interviews, archival footage, and his trademark insight to weave 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. As listeners hear these stories unfurl, Gladwell examines 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 had a different view. This “Bomber Mafia” asked: What if precision bombing could, just by taking out critical choke points - industrial or transportation hubs - cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?

In Revisionist History, Gladwell reexamines moments from the past and asks whether we got it right the first time. In The Bomber Mafia, he employs all the production techniques that make Revisionist History so engaging, stepping back from the bombing of Tokyo, the deadliest night of the war, and asking, “Was it worth it?” The attack 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 more by averting a planned US invasion.

Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. As a key member of the Bomber Mafia, Hansell’s theories of precision bombing had been foiled by bad weather and human error. 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.

©2021 Malcolm Gladwell (P)2021 Malcolm Gladwell
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What the critics say

The Bomber Mafia is a parable written for the age of technological disruption.” (The Times, London) 

"Gladwell is a wonderful storyteller. When he is introducing characters and showing them in conflict, The Bomber Mafia is gripping. I enjoyed this short book thoroughly, and would have been happy if it had been twice as long." (The New York Times)

“An innovative audio book with music, sound effects and archival clips. Gladwell’s easy conversational style works well, and his admiration for the Bomber Mafia shines through.” (The Washington Post)

What listeners say about The Bomber Mafia

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Amazing!

I loved the immersive quality of this audiobook. It is different than any other audiobook I've listen too, and could put it down.

Malcolm please keep creating these types of audio books!

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6 people found this helpful

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sad, sad, untrue story

Gladwell is a wannabe historian, but he lacks any serious concern for the quality of his sources or for events that do not pass his sporadic and inconsistent gaze. Just one example: the longest night of the war is somehow a night when a brutal military leader worries about his crews and his reputation, after taking a horrible and deadly gamble, not any of hundreds of horrifying nights for soldiers at Stalingrad or prisoners at Auschwitz or any of the other horrible nights of the most destructive war these military men have managed to create, so far. Gladwell is wholely in bed with these monsters to the point of thanking their offspring and grovelling at their feet in his epilogue. Disgusting.

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4 people found this helpful

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  • Lb
  • 2021-09-19

Couldn't get past the sound effect

seemed so interesting but I couldn't get past the elevator music and sound effects, felt to lessen the experience for me.

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3 people found this helpful

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Nice Surprise

Let me admit I’m a Gladwell fan - his books and podcasts have been faves of mine for a long time. This book did not disappoint - it walks the line between podcast and text and at first I thought it was the former and not the latter. As I proceeded through the story however I the novel emerged more so - less podcast if that makes sense. Regardless, the only bad thing about this novel was that it was not long enough and I wanted more - that’s it. Do yourself a favour and listen to this story - riveting history that is amazing and terrifying. Looking forward to his next novel.

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3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Felt like a long episode of Revisionist History

The content was okay, but the experience as a whole was a bit disappointing. Lots of reviews rave about the production value, and how with this book Gladwell has revolutionized audio books. No, he made a long podcast episode. Musical interludes, poor quality archival interviews, and use of background music to swell emotion and suspense ruined this book for me. I love audio books, and I love podcasts, but this is an unholy matrimony of the two.

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2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • RS
  • 2021-05-19

A Short Story

An excellent story but very short. I'm confused whether I wanted more or felt cheated.

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Not impressed...

definitely my least favourite MG work :( hard to follow - might make a better movie than book.

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1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Air War concepts that changed the world.

This was a revelation of the impact of the jet stream and the discovery of napalm on shortening WWII.

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?

interesting, however not my favorite work from Malcolm Gladwell. Looking forward to his next book from his new publishing company.

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1 person found this helpful

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A must read/listen book

I've watched countless documentaries. Read more than 40 books on WWI & WWII. This book would rank in the top 3. in fact I might say it comes a close 3rd to All Quiet on the Western Front. The Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich coming in 1st.

Other books on the subject paint broad strokes about the conflict from beginning to end and often span 12 or 13 years of WWII. This book looks at one aspect. Essentially the development of a modern air force as we know it today and the people who created it on the American side. My only lament is not enough goes into how the British air force became what it was in comparison. But that could be an entirely different book.

The story is (if you can say this about war) beautifully told. Malcom is an incredible storyteller. I'm so glad he decided to read his own book. No one else could do the narrative justice. it's coherent, doesn't jump forward and back unnecessarily, provides enough data to make things understandable but also real. Very real.

I'll listen to it a couple more times, I'm sure.

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