Black Snow: Curtis LeMay, the Firebombing of Tokyo, and the Road to the Atomic Bomb

Norton. Sept. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9781324002994. $35. MILITARY HISTORY
The firebombing of Tokyo by American forces in March 1945 represented a moral shift in the thinking of American military commanders in the Pacific. In this meticulously researched and finely written account, Pulitzer Prize–finalist historian Scott (Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila) details the decision to end daylight raids of industrial targets in favor of nighttime strikes against civilians to end the Japanese ability to wage war. As public pressure increased on American commanders to bring the war to an end, the demanding Curtis LeMay replaced Gen. Haywood Hansell Jr. as the heavy bomber commander in the Pacific. In order to break the will of the Japanese to continue the war, commanders switched to incendiary bombs, which would incinerate Japanese cities constructed primarily of wood and paper. They also introduced the B-29 Superfortress, which cost more than the atomic bomb. It became the ideal weapon to strike at the heart of Japan. Using witness and survivor testimony as well as troves of military records, Scott renders in compassionate detail the hell experienced by the victims of the fire-bombing.
VERDICT Anyone who wants to understand the last year of the air war in the Pacific and the bomber commander’s role should read this excellent book.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing