Nu dog du : bombernas århundrade

by Sven Lindqvist

Paper Book, 1999

Status

Available

Call number

909.82

Tags

Publication

Stockholm : Bonnier, 1999 ;

Description

An unconventional history on aerial bombing, and the profound and terrible effects of its aftermath on the modern world.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Eily
A curious title, you might think but this book is essential if you want to understand war and the governments who wage it. This is no ordinary history book but a uniquely fascinating read from start to finish. Chopped into numbered segments, which have to be read in sequence, the book is an
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intelligent exposé of bombing warfare consisting of everything from childhood memories to secret exchanges in the White House. Sven Lindqvist has also highlighted some of the history of war in fiction, an added bonus to what is a stimulating, albeit terrifying, read. Once you get used to following the numbered paragraphs (which admittedly is puzzling at first), you will find unfolding a gripping and compelling narrative of death which arrives from the sky.
This is not a comfortable read – it needs an adventurous reader who is open to the discovery of a new perspective on life and death on this planet.
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LibraryThing member weener
A fascinating history of the use technology for the purposes of violence. Lindqvist writes about how and why bombs, airplanes, and nuclear technology, among other things, have been used to harm people from the time of their invention until the present day. Interestingly, he includes a complementary
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history of appearances of these technologies in science fiction works. Although this book is well-written and interesting, I found that having to skip pages every few paragraphs to follow storylines on numbered boxes was distracting and detracted from my experience rather than enhancing it.
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LibraryThing member iftyzaidi
Having previously read Swedish author Sven Lindqvist's excellent and haunting travel/history book Exterminate All the Brutes, I have been eager to read this for a while now. My enthusiasm was only slightly dented by my brother's annoyance with the structure of the book. Lindqvist has divided the
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book into 399 sections - most only a couple of paragraphs long. The sections are arranged chronologically from the invention of gunpowder to 1999 when the Swedish edition of the book was published. There are 22 narrative strands, or arguments and it is possible to read the book jumping from one section to the next connected section (for example section 3 to 200 to 216), following an assigned path, or its possible to read the whole thing chronologically. Its an interesting attempt to do something a little different, and from time to time it was diverting to take a break from following a particular line of argument to see what else was happening around the time period of a particular section, but overall the traditionalist in me would have been probably been happier with a straightforward 22 chapters.

The content itself is far more than just a history. Lindqvist mixes in his own memories of childhood during ww2, his student days and thoughts and feelings about different episodes in history. We get an interesting examination of how the idea of bombing developed in fiction from the late 19th century onwards (and disturbingly enough how often it is mixed with dreams of genocide). We see the development and arguments in international law surrounding the use of aerial and then nuclear bombs. The development of different types of bombs and different ideas about how to use them is here. There is a incisive evaluation of 'strategic' bombing of civilians in WW2 including the terrible firestorms in Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo, as well as Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is not a clear cut military or technological history, but also social, cultural and legal history. There are also some powerful ruminations on violence and war and its relationship with human nature and human history. By the end, one understands that this is also, above all an implicit plea for sanity in a world that seems obsessed with possessing the ability to commit mass extinction events.
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LibraryThing member setnahkt
A very frustrating book; the kind that makes you want to throw it against the wall at one point while muttering "Hmmm. He's got a point there." at others.


The start with, the very format is deliberately "cute". Although the book is written as a history in chronological order, you're not supposed to
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read it that way; instead there are 22 "entrances", each of which follows (supposedly) a particular theme in bombing. Each "entrance" has a number at the end that takes you to a section later in the book, which also has a number at the end, and so on and so on. Sort of an attempt to do hyperlinks in print. (Supporting this, the typeface is a "high-tech" sans serif, even though tests show serif fonts are easier to read.)


It doesn't work, at least for me. A major problem is that which each section tells you what other section to go to next, it doesn't tell you where you came from (which would have been easy to do by putting a number at the head of each section as well as at the end). Thus, if you ever start reading out of order - by doing a few pages chronologically instead of using the author's desired sequence - you can't get back again unless you take notes on where you came from. True, there's a "Table of Entrances" in the beginning of the book where you can figure this out if your persistent, but I eventually considered this a waste of synapse time and read the book chronologically.


Now on to the actual content of the book: War Bad (unless War of National Liberation); Bombing Worse. War and Bombing Racist and Especially Bad if Done By Whites who aren't Socialists. War and Bombing Not Mentioned if Done by NonWhites or Socialists. (OK, to be fair Mr. Lindqvist does say a few less-than-complimentary things about Stalin, and the Rape of Nanking gets one mention). And finally War and Bombing can Be Prevented By Passing Laws Against Them, which is a major theme.


It's the support for some of these arguments that makes the book more than a Socialist Workers Party leaflet. Mr. Lindqvist has obviously spent a lot of time in obscure libraries. For the "Bombing is Racist" argument. Mr. Lindqvist has collected accounts of obscure colonial wars that I had never heard of; I'm looking forward to checking them out. He's also found an amazing array of science fiction novels that involve various sorts of apocalyptic war scenarios, some of which sound quite interesting in a perverse sort of way. (He uses these novels a part of his indictment - the fact that a lot of "yellow peril" novels were published in English in the 1930s is a clear indication that Americans and English were racist. It would be interesting to see a similar analysis of the Japanese literature at that time.)


Mr. Lindqvist also makes a number of cheap shot arguments, mostly involving various actions that he insists the Allies could have taken in WWII or Korea. There are, of course, the usual ones about atomic bombing - the Japanese were ready to surrender anyway, etc. (Lindqvist insists the Emperor had personally telegraphed President Truman in July 1945 and offered surrender.


There is another, more interesting "straw man" suggestion that bears some further thought: that the Allies could have saved Jews by offering to stop bombing German cities if Hitler shut down the death camps. Lindqvist presents it as simply dichotomy - if Hitler accepts, the Jews are saved; if he refuses, the Allies have the moral high ground. It is, or course, another cheap shot - none of the parties possibly involved in such a decision are available for comment - but it's still kind of an interesting thought that might make a good alternate history novel.


Lindqvist's obsession with international law is frustrating as well. Long sections of the book are devoted to transcripts and discussions of various debates over the legality of aerial bombing. It seems to be a given that if only "laws" had been passed in time all the nastiness would never have happened. How the laws would have been enforced isn't discussed.


There are numerous errors and mis-statements, some suspiciously deliberate-seeming. The one that particularly got me is a photograph showing an RAF pilot with a rubber mask over his head; the mask has a hose leading to a cylinder he's holding under his arm. The photograph is dated "1928" and is part of a section that discusses gas warfare from the air. The caption reads (my emphasis): "The pilot's gas mask as a symbol for the high-tech inhumanity of air warfare". Except, of course, it's not a gas mask, it's an oxygen mask. The implication in a chapter on gas warfare is that the evil RAF was clearly preparing to use gas warfare from the air; the actual meaning is the RAF was clearly preparing to fly at high altitude.


This book is worth reading for the things mentioned above. But not if you are already in an ornery mode.
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Language

Physical description

300 p.; 21 cm

ISBN

9100570516 / 9789100570514
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