I finished Human Smoke late last night after a crazy few days. It was late, it was quiet, and Baker's Afterword about what he hoped to accomplish with this book has left me pensive and still:
"Was it a 'good war'? Did waging it help anyone who needed help? Those were the basic questions that I hoped to answer when I began writing."
It isn't a coincidence that Obama spoke today in Berlin, the city that was very much at the center of the events in Human Smoke. I may still be angry with Obama about FISA, but I'll admit to getting teary-eyed again when watching him deliver an excellent speech in Berlin:
Obama's speech gave me -- yes, I'll use the now-dirtied word -- hope that Baker's closing sentiments may (heavily caveated and in direct relation to who the American people vote for in November) not fall on deaf ears should heeding them become necessary in our near future:
"I dedicate this book to the memory of Clarence Pickett and other American and British pacifists. They've never really gotten their due. They tried to save Jewish refugees, feed Europe, reconcile the United States and Japan, and stop the war from happening. They failed, but they were right."