Napalm is one of those American inventions that you wish weren’t, sort of like Agent Orange, killer drones, or nuclear weapons. Sure, their invention might have had to happen eventually, but why should the U.S. have to shoulder credit – culpability? — for being the first to develop ever-better and more lethal weapons? Was that something the Founding Fathers ever envisioned?
Despite its heritage and horror, napalm – the word is a marriage of its two original components, naphthenic and palmitic acids – has played a major role in the history of war. That’s why Robert M. Neer, a historian at Columbia University, elected to write a book about it.