As a World War II combat soldier, Howard Zinn took part in the aerial bombing of Royan, France. Two decades later, he was invited to visit Hiroshima and meet survivors of the atomic attack. In this short and powerful book, Zinn offers his deep personal reflections and political analysis of these events, their consequences, and the profound influence they had in transforming him from an order-taking combat soldier to one of our greatest anti-authoritarian, antiwar historians. This book was finalized just prior to Zinn's passing in January 2010, and is published on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
When pilot Paul Tibbetts dropped the first atomic bomb he called it "Just something that had to be done." To the end of his life he basked in the admiration of those veterans who believed he saved their lives.
When bombardier Howard Zinn was bombing Europe, he too didn't see the blood or hear the screams at 30,000 feet. Then he learned how the Hiroshima victims had suffered, and he began to question his own missions over Europe which seemed to have no clear purpose.
Zinn says, "The bombardiers of today are in the same position I was in, following orders without question, oblivious of the human consequences of our bombing." He deplores what he calls, "The mass production of massive evil" for which no one is positively responsible, and no one dares to question. He urges us to act on "what we feel and think, here and now, for human flesh and sense, against the abstractions of duty and obedience."