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The Bomb

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  212 ratings  ·  40 reviews
As a World War II combat soldier, Howard Zinn took part in the aerial bombing of Royan, France. Two decades later, he was invited to visit Hiroshima and meet survivors of the atomic attack. In this short and powerful book, Zinn offers his deep personal reflections and political analysis of these events, their consequences, and the profound influence they had in transformin ...more
Paperback, 100 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by City Lights Publishers
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My grandfather worked on the Manhattan Project.

He had lost a lot of cartilage in his knees playing football in college (we're talking leatherheads here...iron man football) and was, therefore, unable to fight in WWII. He managed to get a government job as a pipefitter down in Oak Ridge, TN and was told he was helping the war effort. He had never heard of Oak Ridge (no one did; it was a secret location then, not on any maps), but he moved my grandmother and two of my uncles down there and began w
Back when I dreamed of going to law school, entering the world of politics, and becoming the first woman President of the U.S., I was among the horde of protestors in Washington for the November 1969 march against the Vietnam War. I was a college freshman at a university in D.C. When I returned to my dorm, a friend told me, "Your grandmother called; you'd better call her right away. She sounded frantic." So I called and listened to this panic-stricken voice saying, "Thank G-d you're all right. I ...more
City Lights
"Though the great American historian Howard Zinn is no longer with us, his memory lives on with this excellent personal essay on the subject of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. . . . His book is a shining example of the Constitutionally protected ability to question what we have been told, and should be required reading for all patriotic Americans."
Black Heart Magazine

"It's my favorite. . . . He wrote the book to remind himself and to remind us that anybody can throw the wrench in
George Polley
Comprised of two previously published essays on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the French village of Royan at the end of World War Two plus a new Introduction by the author. Both attacks were justified and defended as necessary in bringing the wars with Germany and Japan to an end. Yet, as Zinn and others have shown, not everyone was in agreement with that. More likely the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were done to show the Soviets that we had the ultimate weapon. On the incendiar ...more
Written from a man we all know, a bombardier himself in WWII, and in my opinion one of the greatest people of our time.

If you can read this book without crying, or at the very minimum without being profoundly moved (if not totally disgusted) YOU HAVE NO HUMANITY.

Zinn's thorough research and countless testimonies of people, and administrators in our government show Truman and Churchill to be the depraved monsters they were. He also shows how deception and racism conditioned the minds of Americans
A great book and a concise review of the context in which the unnecessary bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki occurred. As usual it comes down to hubris, ego, revenge, sadism etc. When everyone is "just following orders" things can, and often do, go terribly wrong. And then you remember that those little bombs were nothing compared to what we have stockpiled all over the place today.
What on earth could justify the use of an atomic bomb or the devastation of thousands of innocent lives?

In The Bomb, Zinn considers the consequences of using the atomic bomb in WWII. Short and to the point, Zinn argues that there was little justification for using the bomb considering that Japan was about to surrender, that the damage caused by it was unusually cruel, and that using it basically contradicts any claim that we were using to prove our moral superiority.

The second half of the book
Kym Andrew Robinson
In this combination of older essays Zinn looks at the morality of the mass aerial bombings of civilian dense targets. His main examples being the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the pointless destruction of the French City of Royan both in 1945 at the Wars end.

Zinn confronts the confused logic that a great many hold dear which states that nationality or birth determines whether one is guilty in war. And thus a credible target to be executed, so long as it is done under certain conditions. Those
Jesse Houle
Mar 07, 2011 Jesse Houle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jesse by: Becky Cote
I can't remember the last time I finished a book in one day. This was a quick read indeed.

As usual, he does a very good job backing up his point of view with a combination of facts, personal accounts of his own and others, and some basic moral/philosophical stuff. He did a great job of showing that Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as many bombings around Europe, most especially a raid in which he participated upon Royan, were unnecessary and brutal massive acts based on vengeance and disturbingly
If you ever find yourself looking for a well-reasoned philosophical stance against war, this may be just the thing. Zinn's argument is that in war (at least modern day war), it is the innocent who bear the brunt of the conflict. If war were the leaders of two hostile countries in a fight-to-the-finish cage match, then I might be all for it. But as it stands right now, the leaders decide what is worth dying for (liberty, patriotism, the motherland, what-have-you), they define what those terms mea ...more
A simple book with great meaning. A return to the Open Media Pamphlet Series that I haven't read from in some time. The Bomb starts with a discussion about the use of the atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how, even known at the time, they were not necessary to win the war. The Japanese, in fact (but whose facts are we looking at? Maybe Zinn's reading of history/events is a bit off.), were on the verge of surrender and that, possibly, the bombs were used on the Japanese but the target ...more
City Lights Open Media Series has done the U.S. people a service in publishing historian Howard Zinn’s The Bomb, a two-part pamphlet that is a contribution to critical thinking about war, and about one of its modern manifestations, that of high-altitude bombing.

Part 1 is Zinn’s essay on the atomic bombings of Japan and part 2 is about his own wartime participation in and later retrieval of the history of the Allied napalm-bombing of a French town, Royan. Both essays could be read in less than a
Zinn's personal experiences as an Air Force pilot in the second World War seemed to give him unique insight into the forces that compel people to tolerate something as savage and murderous as modern warfare. His account of the devastation the atom bomb visited on the countless innocent victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the way the media cooperated with the government to keep this reality silent in the US for 65 years now makes a compelling case for never again entrusting politicians with the ...more
This is a depressing book for an American to read. Zinn does an excellent job of making his case in a very succinct way. He basically says that we have lost our way and belong in the legions with the Romans versus the Greeks. While I find his conclusions to hold up well, I also know that most of the people I have known and do know have a set of ethics more aligned to the Greeks - more humanistic, more gracious. It is a difficult matter to get a national government and its leaders to adequately e ...more
Fred Kohn
Knowing that I should read Howard Zinn, but reluctant to dive into one of his longer books, I was delighted to find these two short essays combined in one book. They were OK, and I'll consider reading something more of his if it strikes my fancy. A big disappointment is that there were many wonderful quotes in the first essay that were not sourced.
". . . we should know by now, even though we are slow learners, that the ugliness of the means is always certain, the goodness of the end always uncertain."
Mike Garrity
I picked this up when I was at City Lights. It’s Howard Zinn’s last book. I didn’t know that he was a bombardier in a B-17 during WWII. This is the story of a raid he did on the French city of Royan. This was after the Germans had retreated. There was a small garrison left behind in Royan. He’s convinced that they would have surrendered any day, and that the only reason they bombed it was so that the Air Force could try out a new toy before the war ended. Wiping the city off the map didn’t enter ...more
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This book, in typical Howard Zinn style, opened my eyes. I am so happy to have read it. A small but very potent book.
Wendy Yu
Never read Zinn before, thought I'd give this small little book a shot. Turned out to be not bad at all (wish I could give it 3.75 stars) -- v persuasive anti-war, anti-bombing account of America's unnecessary decision to drop the atomic bombs in WWII, and the bureaucratic confusion that led to a fire bombing of a European village. Dinged it a star b/c it was too short to really get into (hmm... how to not end on a preposition = it was too short into which to really get?).
Howard Zinn RIP <3
Eh. From the publisher's writeup, I thought this would be more of a personal account of Zinn's experiences as a WWII bombardier, but he hardly reflects upon his own involvement and instead just lectures about why bombs are bad and the history surrounding the atomic bombs dropped in Japan (in a repurposed essay), and then about the history of the bombing he was personally involved with, in Royan, France. Not as interesting as I'd hoped.
Canard Frère
Déshumanisation des populations, recherche de la gloire militaire : deux exemples parmi tant d'autres des raisons irrationnelles qui justifient les cruels bombardements de populations civiles. Un processus qu'essaye de démonter Howard Zinn, pas toujours de façon très cohérente (il manque parfois de s'égarer dans le fil de son essai), mais la sincérité de son engagement emporte facilement la conviction du lecteur.
Tyler Nice

A lot of people don't appreciate Howard Zinn because of his political stances. And people are entitled to their opinions. When I read his books, particularly this one, I find it really hard to believe that some one could argue with his motives. War is awful and will continue to be so. This book is just one of Zinn's many reminders of that.
A social history that critiques the US government's decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As the only country to use nuclear weapons against a civilian population, you may decide if it was justified or not. Zinn, providing compelling evidence that tests the official propaganda, argues it wasn't.
Paul Valente
Engaging but slight questioning of the rationale behind the Hiroshima atomic bomb and the legitimacy of WWII allied bombing, juxtaposed with the authors enquiry into the reasons behind the bombing of Rohan in France at the end of the war, in which he himself took part. Interesting but too short to really justify a book.
Maybe I'm a little biased on rating this book as I am a huge Zinn fan and think anything from him is just great and very informative. I think in this book he reiterates some of his older worker, its a great short read just to have an idea of some of the injustices in World War II.
This book is two short essays, one on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and one on the bombing of Royan, on the coast of France. Together they give a stirring picture of military decision-making in WWII and the human toll of inhuman choices.
Good combination of personal history, general history and thoughtfulness. I think I will need to read it again to remember the flow of his arguments.
Laura Roberts
You can read my review of this excellent book online at Black Heart Magazine:
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Favorite works by Zinn? 1 3 Mar 09, 2010 03:43PM  
  • Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44
  • FDR and the Jews
  • Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War
  • American Power and the New Mandarins: Historical and Political Essays
  • The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics
  • Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany
  • Vietnam: The Real War
  • In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign
  • The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art
  • Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia
  • We Are On Our Own
  • Barefoot Gen, Volume Four: Out of the Ashes
  • The Long Week-End: A Social History of Great Britain, 1918-39
  • In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story
  • July 1914: Countdown to War
  • Chronicle of Youth: The War Diary, 1913-1917
  • War Stories, Vol. 1
  • An Appeal to the Toiling, Oppressed & Exhausted Peoples of Europe
Howard Zinn was a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and Air Force bombardier before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and was a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bologna. He received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs ...more
More about Howard Zinn...
A People's History of the United States You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times A People's History of American Empire The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy Voices of a People's History of the United States

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