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Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany

Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany - Donald L. Miller "Wars are uncontrollable, and no one knows how or why they get out of control but they do. Witness Roosevelt's first statement about fighting a clean war and not wanting anybody to bomb children or innocents or anything like that. But wars just fly out of control." -- Donald Miller

That is at once the most human and inhumane thing about war, and Miller understands the hows and whys more than most. He's a master at parsing and explaining the chaotic dynamics of the air war against Germany. He also, often in the same breath, tells the personal, political and institutional stories with comparable ease and insight. His thorough scholarship takes the Eighth Air Force to task, but he never fails to convey compassion and respect for the young men charged with fighting this horrific war -- some 26,000 of them lost their lives.

He also offers some fresh perspectives on the devolution into terror bombing and its effects on Germany. For example:

"It was a blunt instrument designed to crush the morale of German workers to the point where they either rose up against their government or dropped their tools in order to protect their homes and families, but it did neither. Terror bombing was founded on a flawed understanding of how people react to crushing catastrophes, and on an impossibly optimistic view of the German people's opportunities to revolt. The fantasy of terror bombing was not, as Freeman Dyson claimed, that it depressed morale. The fantasy was that depressed morale would have war-ending consequences . . . As the country neared collapse, discouraged workers became, in their fear and helplessness, more dependent on authority -- that of the factory boss as well as the local Nazi hierachy."

The History Channel's documentary on the Eighth Air force (WWII: The Air War) is based on Miller's history and is an excellent supplement to this book.