On February 13 and 14, 1945, three successive waves of British and U.S. aircraft rained down thousands of tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs on the largely undefended German city of Dresden. Night and day, Dresden was engulfed in a vast sea of flame, a firestorm that generated 1,500-degree temperatures and hurricane-force winds. Thousands suffocated in underground shelters where they had fled to escape the inferno above. The fierce winds pulled thousands more into the center of the firestorm, where they were incinerated. By the time the fires burned themselves out, many days later, a great city, known as "the Florence on the Elbe", lay in ruins, and tens of thousands, almost all of them civilians, lay dead. In Firestorm, Marshall De Bruhl re-creates the drama and horror of the Dresden bombing and offers the most cogent appraisal yet of the tactics, weapons, strategy, and rationale for the controversial attack. Using new research and contemporary reports, as well as eyewitness stories of the devastation, De Bruhl directly addresses many long-unresolved questions relating to the bombing: Why did the strike occur when the Allies' victory was seemingly so imminent? Was choosing a city choked with German refugees a punitive decision, intended to humiliate a nation? What, if any, strategic importance did Dresden have? How much did the desire to send a "message" to Imperial Japan, or the advancing Soviet armies, factor into the decision to firebomb the city?
For hundreds of years Dresden, Germany, was a bastion of civilization and culture. Because it was also the center of an extensive railway system and weapons-production facilities, Allied bombers burned the city near the end of WWII, causing a firestorm of destruction and controversy. Michael Prichard's pleasant and resonant voice leads listeners through a well-researched documentary of flight, politics, and technology. He sometimes uses deft pauses to punctuate the quotes, and at other times a theatrical portrayal of the speaker. Prichard handles the abundant German with ease and the sadness of death with sobering respect. While the book on paper might be dull, Prichard's touch brings a welcome luster.
"De Bruhl [is] quite good at analyzing the tactics that transformed Dresden into an inferno.' (San Francisco Chronicle)
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Thorough, interesting discussion
- ryan huntoon