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The Bomb

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  282 Ratings  ·  53 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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Charity
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
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
...more
Reese
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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 Booksellers & Publishers
"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
...more
Kym Robinson
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-military
The Bomb is a combination of older essays written by Howard Zinn which looks at the morality of the mass aerial bombings of civilian dense targets. Zinn was himself a bombardier during World War Two and spent most of his Post War life as a strong anti-war voice, both a historian and activist. Inside this brief book he cites as his main examples for the bloody futility of aerial bombing as being the destruction of Hiroshima and the pointless devastation of the French City of Royan both in 1945.

Zi
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George Polley
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Court Hansen
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"More and more in our time, the mass production of massive evil requires an enormously complicated division of labor. No one is positively responsible for the horror that ensues. But everyone is negatively responsible, because anyone can can throw a wrench into the machinery...It is the immediate victims (or tomorrow's) who have the greatest need, and the fewest wrenches. They must use their bodies (which may explain why rebellion is a rare phenomenon). This may suggest to those of us who have a ...more
Stuart
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Blackout
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Clara Rosell
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Informative and thought-provoking.
Cortney Cassidy
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
war = bad
Gabriela Svagr
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So sad.
John Murphy
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Zinn presents us with a touching vignette of nuclear disarmament and peace advocacy. You should certainly read this if you are a fan of Zinn, but the information it presents is fairly well known.
Linda
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
My interest in the subject was awakened after visiting the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and hearing extensive personal accounts. The museum does not invoke controversy over acts committed but merely states casualties and glorifies the war effort with its exhausted memorabilia. I'm not surprised any of Zinn's work isn't sold in the gift shop. Instead it's adorned with countless Rosie the Riveter souvenirs and some Holocaust survivor artwork on the side. The Hiroshima & Nagasaki section ...more
Mark
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Tammam Aloudat
There are historians that are contented to tell history as accurate as they can assimilate it and others that want to disrupt it, dig in it, turn it upside down, and make it tell us what to do and what not to do if we are to avoid repeating the past mistakes and suffering the its perils. Howard Zinn belongs to the second group, and he does what he does brilliantly.

I have enjoyed this book immensely, first because I read it immediately after finishing Hersey's Hiroshima (which Zinn quotes several
...more
Brian
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Lauren
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A critical look at the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by author and historian Howard Zinn who served as a bombardier in Europe during WWII. The short book is comprised of two essays, one focused on Japan, the other his own experience with napalming the French town of Royan. Be sure to read the preface by Greg Ruggiero and the introduction by Zinn, completed shortly before his death.

"Howard loved small acts of rebellion. He loved them because it's through small acts that all big change begins
...more
Jesse Houle
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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Ollie
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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
...more
Andy
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mark
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
sunspot
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Christina
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Wendy Yu
Apr 02, 2011 rated it liked it
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?).
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.
Kevin Summers
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
Sample quote: "The strategic argument, which I and other historians have tried to answer with the evidence that there was no military necessity to use the bomb, is not enough. We need to confront the moral issue directly: faced with the horrors visited on hundreds of thousands of human beings by the massive bombings of modern warfare, can any military-strategic-political 'necessity' justify that?"
Cari
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I learned that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki wasn't necessary, as Japan's surrender & peace-keeping plans were in the works, but the U.S. wanted to make a point, as well as test the new technology of atomic energy. As Zinn's last book before passing, I can understand why he felt the message was so important. Can any military-strategic-political "necessity" justify the indiscriminate murder and horror of nuclear weapons?
Tyler Nice
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing


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.
Paul Valente
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
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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
  • My Battle of Algiers: A Memoir
  • FDR and the Jews
  • Vietnam: The Real War
  • Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War
  • World War I in 100 Objects
  • Feeling and Form
  • American Power and the New Mandarins: Historical and Political Essays
  • Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide
  • American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People
  • Death's Men: Soldiers of the Great War
  • In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story
  • Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia
  • Barefoot Gen, Volume Four: Out of the Ashes
  • Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War I
  • The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad
  • Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror
  • The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World
1899
Howard Zinn was a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and a bombardier with the U.S. Army Air Force in Europe during the Second World War before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Zinn taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and was a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bolo
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“Against the claims of a violent "human nature" there is enormous historical evidence that people, when free of a manufactured nationalist or religious hysteria, are more inclined to be compassionate than cruel. When citizens have an opportunity to learn of vicious acts committed by their own governments, they react with indignation and protest.
So long as atrocities remain remote, abstract, they will be tolerated, even by decent people.”
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“When private bands of fanatics commit atrocities we call them "terrorists," which they are, and have no trouble dismissing their reasons. But when governments do the same, and on a much larger scale, the word "terrorism" is not used, and we consider it a sign of our democracy that the acts become subject to debate. If the word "terrorism" has a useful meaning (and I believe it does, because it marks off an act as intolerable, since it involves the indiscriminate use of violence against human beings for some political purpose), then it applies exactly to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” 0 likes
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