Offence and Defence

  • Lawrence FreedmanEmail author
  • Jeffrey Michaels


The dramatic finale of World War II at Hiroshima and Nagasaki rescued the doctrine of strategic bombardment. Without the atom bomb the theorists of airpower would have been pushed on to the defensive, hard put to justify the pounding of cities for limited rewards. The bomber had not always ‘got through’, and when it had done the results had been less than decisive. Air raids took their toll, but only over time. The bomber was not a means of breaking a deadlock, but yet another instrument of attrition, another method by which industrial societies could beat each other down. With atom bombs airpower could be said to have come of age. These weapons were absolutely devastating and, if the experience of the Japanese surrender was anything to go by, promised quick results.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of War StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Defence StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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