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  • Writer's pictureNishant Mittal

8th book of 2021: The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

What happens to most "great" ideas? They don't work for a long, long time.

That's the essential truth upon which Malcolm Gladwell's The Bomber Mafia is written. The book is set in the years leading to the Second World War, when American Air Force (then a part of the Army) was in embryotic stages. The force was slowly developing itself into an independent way of thinking. Airplanes were new, and so were the pilots; and the entire scene was mushrooming with great hope, beauty and freshness (much like the internet in the mid 90s). These pilots were brimming with ideas on how the Air Force would soon change the way nations fought wars. Much like startup guys, their ideas were noble. Intentions clean.

What if we can win wars without killing so many people?

That was the guiding principle of The Bomber Mafia - the unofficial title for the fraternity based out of the USAF HQ at the time. The "new" pilots. Based on what's called "precision bombing", their strategy talked about bombing "choke points" with great efficiency. Let's say you're fighting Germany, what's the cleanest way to take them out? According to them, it would be to bomb their Ball Bearing factories. Precisely and effectively. Without Ball Bearings, Germans won't be able to make cars, planes, weapons, anything. You take Ball Bearings away, and the entire country falls like a house of cards. Or so their thought went...

To think of it, it's a great (and now basic) idea. To destroy a city (like London), you don't need to carpet bomb like the Nazis did during the World War. First you go for some key bridges, followed by the water supply. The city turns thirsty and can't move. Then you kill the power supply and boom! London falls on its knees. You know what happens next. People don't die, and you still win the war. Win win.

Such a great idea! What happened after it was put to work, you ask? US dropped Atomic Bombs on Japan. Yes, I know. That's not quite the end you were hoping for, but that's how life is. And that's what this book is all about. Not all great ideas take off instantly. Some take time, a lot of time. Even though the proponents of precision bombing couldn't prevent the unimaginable death and destruction, what they began is now close to reality. The Bomber Mafia was a good start, even though it failed then. And failed miserably.

I've read all books by Malcolm Gladwell and am always amongst the first buyers of his new releases. The Bomber Mafia is his seventh and I loved it! The man's a legend. I sincerely think everyone should read his books and those who refuse should be declared criminals. Even though he's originally a writer, The Bomber Mafia is primarily released as an Audio Movie. With music, interviews, narration and all that jazz. I'm old school, so I picked up the book. But perhaps you could give it a try? Please do! You'll love it.

Great read!

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