Bombs have played an increasingly large role in warfare since they were first dropped by Italian warplanes on Libyan resistance fighters in 1911. They played a huge role in World War II, with terrible consequences for the inhabitants of London, Manila, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki & many other cities. Since World War II, they have been dropped in even greater numbers by US & allied forces in at least the following instances:
China 1945-46 & 1950-53, Korea 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, 1960 & 1967-69, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-60, Congo 1964, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Grenada 1983, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1980s, Nicaragua 1980s, Panama 1989, Iraq 1991-2003, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia 1999, Afghanistan 2001.
One consequence of this technological change is that whereas before World War II the overwhelming majority of casualties in war occurred among soldiers. Since World War II, the overwhelming majority of casualties in war have ocurred among civilians. In Iraq & Afghanistan, some 90% if the killed & wounded have been civilians.
"Dresden Bombing is to be Regretted Enormously" (interview with British historian Frederick Taylor). Charles Hawley, Der Spiegel (2/11/05).
Korea: Forgotten Nuclear Threats. Bruce Comings, Le Monde Diplomatique (12/04).
Seeking pain and reducing pleasure, Robert Jensen, Texas A&M University lecture (3/4/02). Also posted on ZNet and Counterpunch. Includes detailed description of how cluster bombs work.
Wins Afghan Battlefield Spurs. Alexander Nicoll, Financial Times
(2/6/02). Sophisticated electronic systems shorten time from 'sensor to shooter'
Robot Weapons Convince Sceptics. Alexander Nicoll, Financial Times (2/5/02). US military relying more on unmanned platforms for surveillance, targeting & weaponry
Cluster Bombs in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch News (10/01). Wide dispersal pattern; can't be targeted precisely, & so are especially dangerous to civilians
On the Web: Specialized Sites
Hemingway, Ernest. "The Cardinal picks a winner," Ken 1,3 (5/5/38):38-39. Report on fascist bombing of Barcelona.
In the Library: Non-Fiction Books
Arkin, William M. Civilian Deaths in the NATO Air Campaign (NY: Human Rights Watch, 2000).
Bevan, Robert. The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War (London: Reaktion, 2006).
De Bruhl, Marshall. Firestorm: Allied Airpower & the Destruction of Dresden (NY: Random House, 2006).
Docherty, Bonnie Lynn. United States/Afghanistan: Fatally Flawed. Cluster Bombs & their Use by the US in Afghanistan (NY: Human Rights Watch, 2002).
Friedrich, Jörg. The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945 (trans. Allison Brown; NY: Columbia, 2006).
Gaskin, Margaret. Blitz: The Story of December 29, 1940 (NY: Harcourt, 2006).
Gentile, John P. How Effective is Strategic Bombing? Lessons Learned from World War II & Kosovo (NY: NYU, 2001).
Grayling, A.C. Among the Dead Cities: The History & Moral Legacy of the World War II Bombing of Civilians in Germany & Japan (NY: Walker, 2006).
Grosscup, Beau. Strategic Terror: The Politics & Ethics of Aerial Bombardment (NY: Zed, 2006).
Harmon, Christopher C. Are We Beasts? Churchill & the Moral Question of World War II Area Bombing (Newport RI: Naval War College, 1991).
Hoyt, Edwin P. The Airmen: The Story of American Fliers in World War II (NY: McGraw Hill, 1990).
__________. Angels of Death: Goering's Luftwaffe (NY: Forge, 1994).
__________. Inferno. The Fire Bombing of Japan, March 9-August 25, 1945 (Lanham MD: Madison, 2000).
Ledig, Gert. Payback (London : Granta, 2003).
Lindqvist, Sven. A History of Bombing (NY, 2000).
Miguel, Edward & Gerard Roland. The Long-Term Impacts of Bombing Vietnam (Cambridge MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006).
Misrach, Richard with Myriam Weisang Misrach. Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U., 1990).
Nossack, Hans Erich. The End: Hamburg 1943 [194?] (trans. Joel Agee; Chicago: U. of Chicago, 2004).
Read, Simon. The Killing Skies: RAF Bomber Command at War (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Spellmount, 2006).
Shaw, Martin. The New Western Way of War: Risk-Transfer War & its Crisis in Iraq (London: Polity, 2005). New way of war, transfering risk to civilians as "collateral damage, is intrinsically counterproductive.
Wilson, Kevin. Bomber Boys: The RAF Offensive of 1943 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2005).
In the Library: Fiction
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22 (NY, 1955 & many subsequent editions). Unique work of fiction, both hilarious and horrifying in its commentary on military life in the US Air Force during the last months of World War II.
Sebald, W.G. On the Natural History of Destruction  (trans. Anthea Bell; NY: Modern Library, 2004).
In the Library: For Young Readers
In the Library: Poetry
In the Library: Drama
In the Library: Photography
"The Road to Total War" , by National Film Board of Canada, 60m. From Films Inc. Advances in military technology over two centuries.