Black Snow: Curtis LeMay, the Firebombing of Tokyo, and the Road to the Atomic Bomb

Written by:
James M. Scott
Narrated by:
L.J. Ganser

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
September 2022
12 hours 59 minutes
Seven minutes past midnight on March 10, 1945, nearly 300 American B-29s thundered into the skies over Tokyo. Their payloads of incendiaries ignited a firestorm that reached up to 2,800 degrees, liquefying asphalt and vaporizing thousands; sixteen square miles of the city were flattened and more than 100,000 men, women, and children were killed.

Black Snow is the story of this devastating operation, orchestrated by Major General Curtis LeMay, who famously remarked: 'If we lose the war, we'll be tried as war criminals.' James M. Scott reconstructs in granular detail that horrific night, and describes the development of the B-29, the capture of the Marianas for use as airfields, and the change in strategy from high-altitude daylight 'precision' bombing to low-altitude nighttime incendiary bombing. Most importantly, the raid represented a significant moral shift for America, marking the first time commanders deliberately targeted civilians-which helped pave the way for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki five months later.

Drawing on first-person interviews with American pilots and bombardiers and Japanese survivors, air force archives, and oral histories never before published in English, Scott delivers a harrowing and gripping account, and his most important and compelling work to date.
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This book described the efforts of Gen Curtis LeMay while he was commander of the 21st bombardment Air Force during WWII. It is factual, brutal in its description of the bombings and their effects on Japan and her population. It describes the rationale for the US policy of precision daylight bombing and the necessary shift in the execution of that policy to area bombing to prosecute the war with Japan. It reminds the reader of the brutality of the Japanese army and navy when allied soldiers, sailors and Marines were taken prisoner. It offers an explanation of the extraordinary efforts the US made to bring the Japanese to end the war by surrender and their continued refusals. It also describes the sentiment of the average American towards Japan and the willingness of many American to exterminate the entire Japanese population. The book describes the resistance of the military establishment to the decisions made by the emperor when he decided that Japan had had enough and would accept the terms of an unconditional surrender. At that time practically all of the major cities in Japan lay destroyed from incendiary bombs and the two atomic bombs. The book describes LeMay and his staff and gives the rationale for the many nicknames given to him. Overall the book tells an interesting story based on factual accounts of both American and Japanese witnesses.

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