A History of Bombing

A daring literary and historical look at the ideologies of war and violence, by the author of “Exterminate All the Brutes”

“Compelling and morally urgent.” —Hari Kunzru

On November 1, 1911, over the North African oasis Tagiura, Lieutenant Giulio Cavotti leaned out of the cockpit of his primitive aircraft and, dropping a Haasen hand grenade, initiated one of the twentieth century’s most devastating military tactics: aerial bombing.

The bomb shatters history into hundreds of fragments scattered throughout time in this fascinating book from Sven Lindqvist, author of the acclaimed “Exterminate All the Brutes”. More than just a history, it is an overview and interrogation of the cultural and political dimensions—and the devastating effects—of war from above. Forming a labyrinth of events that illustrates the genocidal fantasies underlying so much conflict and the devastation wrought by aerial bombing, A History of Bombing links the total war of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War with centuries-past colonial warfare.

Mining such diverse topics as military history and strategy, the evolution of international law, turn-of-the-century science fiction, and the civilian experience during wartime, Lindqvist has produced a rich meditation on the past and the future of human conflict.


“Extraordinary and beautifully written.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Lindqvist plots a clear path towards the ever more horrendous holocausts that lie ahead. It is gripping stuff.”
New Statesman
“An original work, written with a moral passion that is uncommon.”
The Sunday Times (London)
“Impassioned, wide-ranging.”
The Times (London)
“Lindqvist’s book is partly a history, but it is also an antiwar monument. . . . He is interested not just in the history of bombing, but also in its subsequent reconfiguration in a standardised form of public memory which is little better than ‘a collective denial of the past.’”
London Review of Books
“A profound litany of what might someday be considered among the most counterproductive military actions ever taken.”
The Nation
“Profoundly disquieting, but that obviously is Lindqvist’s ultimate purpose.”
—Associated Press
“Continuously interesting, often fascinating.”
Financial Times
“A work of great originality.”
—Geoff Dyer

News and Reviews

The New Press Remembers Sven Lindqvist


Books by Sven Lindqvist

The Skull Measurer’s Mistake
And Other Portraits of Men and Women Who Spoke Out Against Racism

Sven Lindqvist

“Exterminate All the Brutes”
One Man’s Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide

Sven Lindqvist

Terra Nullius
A Journey Through No One’s Land

Sven Lindqvist

The Dead Do Not Die
“Exterminate All the Brutes” and Terra Nullius

Sven Lindqvist

Goodreads Reviews