“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.