WINGS OF JUDGMENT: American Bombing in World War II by Ronald Schaffer

WINGS OF JUDGMENT: American Bombing in World War II

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America entered WW II determined to prove that precision bombing of military and industrial targets was superior to the RAF's indiscriminate saturation or area bombing of the civilian population. This book describes that struggle and the moral and pragmatic concerns of the leaders who attempted to forge rational policies in desperate wartime situations. It is disturbing, sad, and filled with the vexations of good men doing their best in the midst of the greatest immorality--war. The American airmen, born and bred on Billy Mitchell and determined to prove the importance of air power, were to lose the strategic battle to the RAF. Enormous losses and other difficulties, natural and practical, drove them into attacking civilian populations until the firebombings of Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin and Tokyo led eventually to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Along the way, American Air Force officers were stalwart and driven men, men whose sensitivity to the issues of America's mission and moral leadership impelled them to resist area bombing. Even those who believed, as Sherman did, in bringing war to the people and who dared not be ""soft,"" lest they lose the battle for democracy, come across as thoughtful people tortured by duty and strategy. They were tough, these air warriors who strode out to beat the Nazis, but they were good men in a bloody business. Admirable, brisk and with no axe to grind, Shaffer brings into vivid focus the last of the wars in which good and evil were clearly delineated. Even so, the choices made in the air war were horrific, and haunt us to this day.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1985
ISBN: 019505640X
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press