Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945

Princeton University Press
2
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A major revision of our understanding of long-range bombing, this book examines how Anglo-American ideas about "strategic" bombing were formed and implemented. It argues that ideas about bombing civilian targets rested on--and gained validity from--widespread but substantially erroneous assumptions about the nature of modern industrial societies and their vulnerability to aerial bombardment. These assumptions were derived from the social and political context of the day and were maintained largely through cognitive error and bias. Tami Davis Biddle explains how air theorists, and those influenced by them, came to believe that strategic bombing would be an especially effective coercive tool and how they responded when their assumptions were challenged.

Biddle analyzes how a particular interpretation of the World War I experience, together with airmen's organizational interests, shaped interwar debates about strategic bombing and preserved conceptions of its potentially revolutionary character. This flawed interpretation as well as a failure to anticipate implementation problems were revealed as World War II commenced. By then, the British and Americans had invested heavily in strategic bombing. They saw little choice but to try to solve the problems in real time and make long-range bombing as effective as possible.

Combining narrative with analysis, this book presents the first-ever comparative history of British and American strategic bombing from its origins through 1945. In examining the ideas and rhetoric on which strategic bombing depended, it offers critical insights into the validity and robustness of those ideas--not only as they applied to World War II but as they apply to contemporary warfare.

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About the author

Tami Davis Biddle is Associate Professor of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College. She teaches military and diplomatic history, national security policy, and grand strategy. Her research focuses on the evolution of military ideas, and their implementation as strategies for national defense and methods of warfighting.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 10, 2009
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9781400824977
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
History / Military / Strategy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the Hardcover edition.
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