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A History of Bombing by Sven Lindqvist

A History of Bombing (edition 2003)

by Sven Lindqvist, Linda Haverty Rugg (Translator)

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Title:A History of Bombing
Authors:Sven Lindqvist
Other authors:Linda Haverty Rugg (Translator)
Info:New Press, The (2003), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

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A History of Bombing by Sven Lindqvist


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  clarkland | Dec 25, 2015 |
Having previously read Swedish author Sven Lindqvist's excellent and haunting travel/history book Exterminate All the Brutes, I have been eager to read this for a while now. My enthusiasm was only slightly dented by my brother's annoyance with the structure of the book. Lindqvist has divided the book into 399 sections - most only a couple of paragraphs long. The sections are arranged chronologically from the invention of gunpowder to 1999 when the Swedish edition of the book was published. There are 22 narrative strands, or arguments and it is possible to read the book jumping from one section to the next connected section (for example section 3 to 200 to 216), following an assigned path, or its possible to read the whole thing chronologically. Its an interesting attempt to do something a little different, and from time to time it was diverting to take a break from following a particular line of argument to see what else was happening around the time period of a particular section, but overall the traditionalist in me would have been probably been happier with a straightforward 22 chapters.

The content itself is far more than just a history. Lindqvist mixes in his own memories of childhood during ww2, his student days and thoughts and feelings about different episodes in history. We get an interesting examination of how the idea of bombing developed in fiction from the late 19th century onwards (and disturbingly enough how often it is mixed with dreams of genocide). We see the development and arguments in international law surrounding the use of aerial and then nuclear bombs. The development of different types of bombs and different ideas about how to use them is here. There is a incisive evaluation of 'strategic' bombing of civilians in WW2 including the terrible firestorms in Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo, as well as Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is not a clear cut military or technological history, but also social, cultural and legal history. There are also some powerful ruminations on violence and war and its relationship with human nature and human history. By the end, one understands that this is also, above all an implicit plea for sanity in a world that seems obsessed with possessing the ability to commit mass extinction events. ( )
  iftyzaidi | Nov 3, 2010 |
A fascinating history of the use technology for the purposes of violence. Lindqvist writes about how and why bombs, airplanes, and nuclear technology, among other things, have been used to harm people from the time of their invention until the present day. Interestingly, he includes a complementary history of appearances of these technologies in science fiction works. Although this book is well-written and interesting, I found that having to skip pages every few paragraphs to follow storylines on numbered boxes was distracting and detracted from my experience rather than enhancing it. ( )
  weener | Dec 11, 2007 |
A curious title, you might think but this book is essential if you want to understand war and the governments who wage it. This is no ordinary history book but a uniquely fascinating read from start to finish. Chopped into numbered segments, which have to be read in sequence, the book is an intelligent exposé of bombing warfare consisting of everything from childhood memories to secret exchanges in the White House. Sven Lindqvist has also highlighted some of the history of war in fiction, an added bonus to what is a stimulating, albeit terrifying, read. Once you get used to following the numbered paragraphs (which admittedly is puzzling at first), you will find unfolding a gripping and compelling narrative of death which arrives from the sky.
This is not a comfortable read – it needs an adventurous reader who is open to the discovery of a new perspective on life and death on this planet. ( )
1 vote Eily | Apr 2, 2007 |
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