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Capsule Review

Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945

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Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945

Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945
By Tami Davis Biddle
Princeton University Press, 2002, 406 pp. $45.00 Purchase

There are books about military ideas and books about military practice. This work by a talented young historian integrates the two forms. In addition to a deft pen and an eye for the wry anecdote, Biddle possesses an instinct for the ways in which ideas about new forms of warfare germinate, spread, and are adopted in the absence of good data. The importance of this book therefore not only stems from what it tells the reader about how the two great air powers of the first half of the twentieth century thought about this new instrument of war. It also offers cautionary lessons in an age of radical military change. Sleek and dazzling new technology is one thing; sensible doctrine for its use in war is another.

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