restricted access Firestorm: Napalm and the American Century

Robert M. Neer's clear-eyed and harrowing new account surveys this infamous technology from both perspectives. This is history, in a literal sense, from above and below. Using napalm as a symbol for American global influence acutely demonstrates the political trajectory of a superpower, from impetuous upstart to tortured giant to—finally—chastened hegemon. "Its history illuminates America's story," Neer writes, "from victory in World War II, through defeat in Vietnam, to its current position in a globalizing world."