AUTHORBiddle, Tami Davis
TITLERhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas About Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945
PUBLISHERPrinceton University Press
CITYPrinceton, NJ

This book examines the complex development of Anglo-American perceptions on long-range strategic bombing, focusing on the discrepancies between what the tactic was believed to be able to accomplish and what it actually did. Historian Tami Davis Biddle examines the period before and during World War II in order to answer why military strategies and public perceptions continued to be based on the prevailing views regarding aerial bombing's potential effects instead of on facts regarding its actual results. The author discusses how political, cultural, or social biases at the individual and institutional levels played a key role. Sections of the book explore early Anglo-American conceptions of strategic bombing and assessment; the contrasting British and American approaches to long-range bombing in the interwar period of the 1920s and 1930s; and initial difficulties faced by Anglo-American airmen (specifically from 1939 to 1942), as well as the shift in strategic decisions that resulted. The final chapter examines the Anglo-American quest to make strategic aerial-bombing the pinnacle of effective warfare, looking particularly at bombing campaigns in Europe and Japan. The author concludes that strategic bombing strategies that originated during the period discussed, despite the inaccuracies upon which they were based, continued to influence air-warfare thinking throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Sources include meeting minutes, letters, and policy documents related to British and American air forces.

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