“Napalm: An American Biography is…meticulously researched and vitally important… Napalm came to be employed the world over. Neer’s chronicle of its use by American allies and client regimes against opponents in the Philippines, Greece, Cuba, Egypt, Peru, Bolivia, Cyprus, Tunisia, Algeria, Kenya and Angola, among other nations, is a revelation and one of the most enlightening portions of Napalm… Napalm: An American Biography is a fascinating and long-overdue study of one of modern warfare’s signature weapons. Neer has provided a valuable book that fills in historical gaps and sheds much-needed light on a history that many would rather forget.”—Nick Turse, The San Francisco Chronicle
“Neer systematically follows the story of napalm that originally empowered an often outnumbered American military to fight far abroad against the Japanese, and later, North Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese—only to become a byword for the pathologies of the military–industrial complex of the United States… Neer is often highly critical of the American use of napalm; yet his narrative of its origins, production and use over the past seven decades is not a jeremiad, but learned, fair and historically accurate… Neer is especially insightful in showing how Vietnam was a turning point in public perceptions about napalm… For all its infernal destructiveness and the terror it instills in hapless ground troops, this savage weapon has probably not changed the thinking behind age-old warfare all that much.”—Victor Davis Hanson, The Times Literary Supplement
“In the era of drone strikes, Napalm is a timely look at what it means to (literally) rain death from above. Developed at Harvard during World War II, napalm was explicitly designed to destroy civilian targets: It was even tested on mock-ups of German and Japanese houses. The horrific firebombing of Japan and the use of napalm in Vietnam figure prominently, but the book also details lesser-known uses of the weapon in Korea and Iraq (where the U.S. military insisted its ‘firebombs’ were different than napalm). An excellent and disturbing history of a weapon that’s synonymous with the horror of modern warfare.”—Dave Gilson, Mother Jones
“This book should really appeal to everyone. There is no bias here, no leftist or conservative agenda. This is simply an exhaustive history of napalm, from its beginnings as kind of a scientific puzzle for technocrats to one of the most widely despised symbols of war. This book is historical enough for history buffs, yet laden with enough military and chemistry jargon to make the viewers of the History Channel and Discovery Channel, respectively, go dry-mouthed with anticipation. Neer has a penchant for making even the most technical and obtuse topic insanely readable.”—Shyam K. Sriram, PopMatters
For a complete list of reviews, notes from the book, and additional materials, please click here for NapalmBiography.com.
"Public Executions in New York City" was my contribution to the 2nd Edition of the Encyclopedia of New York City edited by Ken Jackson, Lisa Keller and Nancy Flood and published in 2012 by Yale University Press. Executions used to be extremely popular in New York: crowds of up to 50,000 people, one-third of the metropolis, jammed downtown; spectators tore clothes from the condemned for use as good luck charms, and fought for prime viewing spots. In 1829, disturbances forced New York to move killings inside prison walls — apparently the first jurisdiction in the world to take this step. Audiences then lined adjacent rooftops: scalpers hawked tickets to the prison yard which held the gallows. Electric chair executions began on 6 August 1890 deep inside Sing Sing prison in upstate Ossining, New York and these morbid spectacles ended in New York City.
Random House sold over 16,000 copies of this book, published in 2007 by For Beginners books. It remains the best selling title in the 24-year history of the For Beginners series. An expanded and revised 2009 Presidential Edition included extensive notes. From the publisher: "Barack Obama For Beginners: An Essential Guide is the most concise and reliable short biography available on the 44th President of the United States - from his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, education at Columbia and Harvard, work as a community organizer, writer, teacher, lawyer, and politician in Illinois, to his historic campaign for President. Barack Obama For Beginners keeps the focus on the man and his record - accomplishments and missteps, praise and criticism - to allow readers to gain a balanced understanding of President Obama as they follow his rise to the White House. Entertaining illustrations enliven the reading experience and highlight important details." Also available in a Russian translation.