Synopses & Reviews
A groundbreaking historical analysis of indiscriminate bombing, from the 1920s to the present war in Iraq.
"You press a button and death flies down. One second, the bomb is hanging harmlessly in your racks, completely under your control. The next it is hurtling down through the air and nothing in your power can revoke what you have done."Charles Lindbergh
With contributions from scholars from Japan, the United States, and Europe, Bombing Civilians examines a crucial question: why did military planning in the early twentieth century shift its focus from bombing military targets to bombing civilians?
From the British bombing of Iraq in the early 1920s to the most recent conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, Bombing Civilians analyzes in detail the history of indiscriminate bombing, examining the fundamental questions of how this theory justifying mass killing originated and why it was employed as a compelling military strategy for decades, both before and since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The book includes major new arguments, such as Japanese historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's bold claim that it was the Soviet invasion rather than the atomic bombs that compelled the Japanese to surrender in the Pacific War.
Combining historical and contemporary analysis, Bombing Civilians makes an important argument about international law and the morality of war.
With contributions from:, Tony Coady, Helen Durham, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Tetsuo Maeda, Tim McCormack, Robert Moeller, Mark Selden, Ron Schafer, Michael Sherry.
"Young, a professor of history at NYU, and Tanaka, of the Hiroshima Peace Institute, bring together eight essays by American, Japanese and European scholars on a disturbing subject: why has aerial warfare, beginning in WWI, emphasized civilian targets? Aerial bombing affects civilian morale, a vulnerable element in a country mobilized for total war. Tanaka demonstrates that during the interwar years the British considered air strikes in Iraq a cheaper, more 'humane' way of maintaining imperial control than conventional ground operations. Ronald Schaeffer, Robert Moeller and Mark Selden each show that area bombardment was regarded, in particular by Britain and the U.S., as a shortcut to victory long after evidence ceased to support the belief. Selden goes so far as to assert that '[m]ass murder of civilians has been central to all subsequent U.S. wars.' Discussing the morality of bombing, C.A.J. Coady is the only contributor who engages the moral principle of double effect: keeping collateral damage under the restraints of morality, reason and law. Still, this is better read as advocacy than scholarship." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Makes a cogent case for reassessing the effectiveness of air campaigns and how power influences accountability." —Japan Times
From the British bombing of Iraq in the early 1920s to more recent conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, indiscriminate aerial bombing has been a frighteningly common strategy of modern warfare, owing much to the relative safety of the attackers and the complete vulnerability of the victims.
In Bombing Civilians, leading experts Marilyn B. Young and Yuki Tanaka have brought together a group of distinguished scholars from Japan, the United States, and Europe to explore the history of indiscriminate bombing, examining the shift from bombing military targets to bombing civilians. This bold collection examines the fundamental questions of how this theory justifying mass killing originated and why it has been employed as a compelling military strategy for decades, both before and after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
With major new arguments, including Japanese historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s claim that it was the Soviet invasion rather than the atomic bombs that compelled the Japanese to surrender in the Pacific War, Bombing Civilians combines historical and contemporary analysis to make a powerful argument about international law and the morality of war.
About the Author
Yuki Tanaka is a research professor at Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University and a coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Journal
. He is a co-editor, with Marilyn B. Young, of Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History
(The New Press).
Marilyn B. Young is a professor of history at New York University. She is a co-editor (with Lloyd C. Gardner) of The New American Empire: A 21st Century Teach-In on U.S. Foreign Policy and Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn from the Past and (with Yuki Tanaka) of Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History, all published by The New Press. She lives in New York City.