> Skip to content
  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241535004
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $48.99

The Bomber Mafia

A Story Set in War




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?

  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241535004
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $48.99

About the author

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five international bestsellers: The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath. He is the host of the podcast Revisionist History and is a staff writer at The New Yorker. He was named one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine and one of the Foreign Policy's Top Global Thinkers. Previously, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business and science, and then served as the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. He graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He lives in New York.

Also by Malcolm Gladwell

See all

Praise for The Bomber Mafia

A parable written for the age of technological disruption . . . brilliantly told

James McConnachie, Sunday Times

Unexpected empathy . . . fabulistic energy

Esquire

Lively, engaging . . . a fascinating story

Gerard DeGroot, The Times

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

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

Riveting . . .The Bomber Mafia looks at one of the greatest moral challenges of the Second World War

Michael Lewis, author of The Fifth Risk

Impassioned . . . engagingly written

Saul David, Telegraph

Told with the muscular, driving narrative and fizzingly charismatic (real-life) characters of a movie

Ed Grenby, Radio 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

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

Related titles