Current Listening: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945

Giulio Douhet

 No more punk rock today — back to research. Current listening: the audiobook of Barrett Tillman’s Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945.

The weird thing is that it’s read by Mel Foster, who also narrated T.J. English’s flawed but still hugely entertaining Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba…and Then Lost It to the Revolution. The result? The voice I hear in his narration is not a serious evaluation of the influence of air power on history, but a swaggering, sleazy octogenarian barfly pouring me a double Dewar’s neat and giving me the inside scoop on what Cuba was like in those days, and what Desi Arnaz and the Latin music craze of the 1950s has to do with Meyer Lansky.

Even weirder? IT WORKS FOR ME.

Havana Nocturne

With Whirlwind, currently I’m about half an hour in; interesting stuff about Giulio Douhet as well as Billy Mitchell‘s famous 1921 demonstration of the potential of bombers against warships, and his subsequent court martial for accusing the US military leadership of incompetence in early management of aviation. The great thing so far is that according to Tillman, Michell’s air power vs. sea power demonstration was at least partially hoaxed — that’s right; Mitchell says he cheated. That he turned out to be right only showed that he was less crazy than brilliant, but — as with Patton — that wavering line is what makes him so fascinating.

WhirlwindWhat does all this have to do with an army of zombies at the center of the Earth? Hopefully, that question will serve as some small motivation for the rest of you to refrain from chopping my head off for the next couple of years — like Scheherazade, I have only an army of laughing zombies and the Norden bombsight to save me.


Lead image: Italian air power pioneer Giulio Douhet.


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