Technology shapes the nature of all wars, and the Second World War hinged on a most unpredictable weapon: the bomb. Day and night, Britain and the United States unleashed massive fleets of bombers to kill and terrorize occupied Europe, destroying its cities. The grisly consequences call into question how “moral” a war the Allies fought.
The Bombers and the Bombed radically overhauls our understanding of World War II. It pairs the story of the civilian front line in the Allied air war alongside the political context that shaped their strategic bombing campaigns, examining the responses to bombing and being bombed with renewed clarity.
The first book to examine seriously not only the well-known attacks on Dresden and Hamburg but also the significance of the firebombing on other fronts, including Italy, where the crisis was far more severe than anything experienced in Germany, this is Richard Overy’s finest work yet. It is a rich reminder of the terrible military, technological, and ethical issues that relentlessly drove all the war’s participants into an abyss.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Abbreviations used in the text xxvii
Prologue: Bombing Bulgaria 1
Chapter 1 The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Bomber Command, 1939-42 33
Chapter 2 The Casablanca Offensive: The Allies over Germany, 1943-44 107
Chapter 3 The "Battle of Germany," 1944-45 171
Chapter 4 The Logic of Total War: German Society Under the Bombs 231
Chapter 5 Italy: The War of Bombs and Words 318
Chapter 6 Bombing Friends, Bombing Enemies: Germany's New Order 361
Epilogue: Lessons Learned and Not Learned: Bombing into the Postwar World 429
Bibliography and Sources 517
What People are Saying About This
"What has long been needed is a sober, dispassionate, fully-sourced exploration of what the bombing campaign comprised, how it developed in the course of a long conflict and what it achieved. Richard Overy, a professor of history at Exeter University in Britain, has writen preceisely such a book, a detailed, meticulous analysis that is all the more powerful for eschewing the hysteria that has long colored this subject for too long.”
—Ben Macintyre, New York Times Sunday Book Review
“There will be debate over the bombing campaign in Europe for years to come…. In the future, though, that debate will have to take into account the facts and the arguments marshaled by Overy in ‘The Bombers and the Bombed,’ which immediately becomes an essential part of the literature of World War II. The conclusions it reaches about ‘strategic bombing’ will have to be reckoned with by any nation that takes it upon itself to bomb another into submission, if not oblivion, and anyone who takes those conclusions seriously will be hard-pressed to argue the efficacy of that strategy.”
—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
“For anyone interested in the politics of the Allied air war, this is an indispensable and eye-opening book.”
—Adam Tooze, Wall Street Journal
“Overy delivers an insightful analysis of how all nations reversed their abhorrence of killing civilians when it became unavoidable. Overy provides an eye-opening and often distressing account… For a far more expansive view that includes those on the receiving end [of the bombing], Overy is the choice.”
“Superb… Overy has presented a very strong case in support of his view.”
“First comprehensive analysis of the Allied strategic bombing offensive in Europe.”
“What distinguishes Mr Overy’s account of the bombing war from lesser efforts is the wealth of narrative detail and analytical rigour that he brings to bear.”
—Economist “Excellent…. Overy is never less than an erudite and clear-eyed guide whose research is impeccable and whose conclusions appear sensible and convincing even when they run against the established trends."