Andrei Cherny: Historians et al. debate his book, Candy Bombers





Having gone on for far too long about the perils of extrapolating from historical similarities, what strikes me most about the history recounted in The Candy Bombers are the overwhelming dissimilarities between 1948 and 2008. Not so much on the international scene as simply in the realm of leadership, if that's not too quaint a term to use here. The John McLoys, the Lucius Clays, the James Forrestals--where have they gone? In place of them, we have who? Sandy Berger? Paul Bremer? Today's smarmy foreign policy elites, for all of their moral posturing and inflated self-regard, don't exactly rise to the level of their predecessors. To put down The Candy Bombers is to feel orphaned.

But Andrei's vibrant chronicle unfolds on two levels, transporting us easily from the White House to the cockpits at Tempelhof. There, at the micro-level, I was encouraged about the present and for a simple reason: We no longer have Harry Trumans among us, but we do have Hal Halvorsens. I have seen them--winning over sheiks three times their age, calling in medevacs, and there in the ruins, dispensing candy to children. Hence, my own take away from Andrei's book: so long as we have candy bombers, there is hope.


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