by Howard Zinn
City Lights / 2010
Publication of this new book by the late historian and peace activist Howard Zinn, who died in January 2010, coincides with the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Excerpts from a review by Jonah Raskin, posted at MichaelMoore.com, 4 August 2010:
There are two parts to The Bomb. One of them has to do with Zinn’s own experiences bombing -- and destroying -- the French town of Royen in April 1945 three weeks before the end of the war in Europe, that resulted in the deaths of more than one thousand people. Zinn was a bombardier with the 490th Bomb Group and flying in a B-17 with the crew. “I remember distinctly seeing, from our great height, the bombs explode in the town, flaring like matches stuck in fog,” he writes. “I was completely unaware of the human chaos below.”
Twenty-one years later, Zinn returned to Royen to do research about the destruction of the seaside French town. And in 2010, 65 years later he was still haunted by the bombing, and his own role as a bombardier. What Zinn learned from his research was that in the bombing of Royan, napalm or “liquid fire” was used for the first time. He concludes that it was “an unnecessary military operation” and that Royan was bombed to fulfill “pride, military ambition, glory and honor.”
He also argues that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary to win the war against the Japanese. He presents evidence to show that the war was already won, and that the argument that the bombs saved hundreds of thousands of American lives was misleading at best.