Napalm: An American Biography

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9780674073012: Napalm: An American Biography

Napalm, incendiary gel that sticks to skin and burns to the bone, came into the world on Valentine's Day 1942 at a secret Harvard war research laboratory. On March 9, 1945, it created an inferno that killed over 87,500 people in Tokyo--more than died in the atomic explosions at Hiroshima or Nagasaki. It went on to incinerate sixty-four of Japan's largest cities. The Bomb got the press, but napalm did the work. After World War II, the incendiary held the line against communism in Greece and Korea--Napalm Day led the 1950 counter-attack from Inchon--and fought elsewhere under many flags. Americans generally applauded, until the Vietnam War. Today, napalm lives on as a pariah: a symbol of American cruelty and the misguided use of power, according to anti-war protesters in the 1960s and popular culture from Apocalypse Now to the punk band Napalm Death and British street artist Banksy. Its use by Serbia in 1994 and by the United States in Iraq in 2003 drew condemnation. United Nations delegates judged deployment against concentrations of civilians a war crime in 1980. After thirty-one years, America joined the global consensus, in 2011. Robert Neer has written the first history of napalm, from its inaugural test on the Harvard College soccer field, to a Marine Corps plan to attack Japan with millions of bats armed with tiny napalm time bombs, to the reflections of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, a girl who knew firsthand about its power and its morality.

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Recensione:

Neer recounts in rich detail the extraordinary evolution of napalm from hero in the gilded age of post-WWII American power to pariah in the aftermath of Vietnam...Neer ultimately moves beyond the protests to examine how antiwar grassroots activism, art, journalism and politics during and immediately after the Vietnam War radically reshaped cultural attitudes about napalm and the United States. --Warren Wilkins, Vietnam Magazine, 6th January 2013

"Napalm was born a hero but lives a pariah, " Robert Neer writes. As such, its history is a parable of the vicissitudes of modern American power. Developed at Harvard in the early 1940s, napalm is indelibly associated with the war in Vietnam but Neer shows that it played a role as important as the atomic bomb in hastening Japanese surrender in the second World War." --New Statesman, 25th April 2013

"We have become accustomed to books dealing with a commodity: cod, salt, sugar, oil. Napalm: An American Biography is the history of a product. It has been used by americans at war since the 1940s. However, public awareness of its existence was limited before the Vietnam War made it notorious. Robert Neer begins his history with an invocation of one of the most painful of that war's iconic photographs: a naked child, Kim Phuc, screaming in pain, running down a highway. "Napalm had caught her as she ran, and splattered over the upper side of her body. It carbonized her pony tail, and seared her neck and left arm." Over a third of her body had been burned raw and her right palm was " an open wound from where she had smeared the burning gel in an effort to get it of her arm."

Neer then introduces the scientists who invented the weapon, including the distinguished professor of organic chemistry, Louis Fieser, who tested a 70lb napalm bomb on Harvard's University's soccer field in 1940 and became an early recruit in the National Defense Research Committee, which linked the academy to the military and industry. Toward the end of the Second World War, napalm was used both in flamethrowers and arial bombs, achieving its greatest "success" in the incineration of major Japanese cities in the spring of 1945. A professor of medicine wandering through the ruins of Tokyo found there "was no one to rescue. If you touched one of the roasted bodies the flesh would crumble in your hand. Humanity was reduced to its chemical properties." Updraughts from the fires "brought with them a sickening odor", an American pilot remembered, "an odor that I will never be able to get completely out of my nostrils - the smell of roasting human flesh. I later learned that some pilots and crewman gagged and vomited in reaction to the stench, and a few had passed out."

In post-1945 wars of decolonization and counter-insurgency napalm again proved its efficacy. In Korea, the US dropped twice as much napalm as it had on Japan: 32,357 tons. But the apogee of its use and the beginning of a remarkable struggle against it occurred during the Vietnam War. Between 1963 and 1973, 388,000 tons of napalm were dropped on Indochina. Press reports of its impact were accompanied by praise for its excellence as a weapon and the insistence that it was only ever used on "clearly identified military targets" - although of course accidents happen. Unconvinced, in 1695 an anti-war group in California began a campaign against local manufacturer. Increasingly --Karl Helicher, Library Journal, 15th March 2013

In best books of 2013 feature --Joanna Bourke, Times Higher Education, 19/12/2013

Napalm is a revelation. In a story that takes us from Harvard Stadium to Vietnam, Robert M. Neer retells the past 70 years of American history through a single extraordinary and terrible invention. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the American way of war and its humanitarian dilemmas. --John Fabian Witt, Author of Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History

L'autore:

Robert M. Neer is an attorney and Core Lecturer in the History Department at Columbia University.

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Neer, Robert M.
Editore: Harvard Univ Press
ISBN 10: 0674073010 ISBN 13: 9780674073012
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Descrizione libro Harvard Univ Press. Condizione libro: BRAND NEW. BRAND NEW Hardcover A Brand New Quality Book from a Full-Time Bookshop in business since 1992!. Codice libro della libreria 2364437

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Descrizione libro Belknap Press, Cambridge, 2013. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. 352 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. New book. MILITARY. "In this engrossing study, historian Neer recounts the prodigious youth and reviled old age of an iconic weapon . . . Neer's thoroughly researched, well-written account mixes lucid discussions of chemical engineering and the law of war with gut-wrenching depiction of napalm's nightmarish effects." - Publishers Weekly (Key Words: Napalm, Robert M. Neer, Bombs, Weapons, Chemical Engineering, Military). book. Codice libro della libreria 79677X1

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Descrizione libro Belknap Press. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. 0674073010 New Condition. Codice libro della libreria NEW6.0335269

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Descrizione libro Belknap Pr, 2013. Hardcover. Condizione libro: Brand New. 290 pages. 9.75x6.25x1.25 inches. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria zk0674073010

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Descrizione libro Belknap Press, 2013. Condizione libro: new. Shiny and new! Expect delivery in 2-3 weeks. Codice libro della libreria 9780674073012-1

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