The Fire and the Darkness: The Bombing of Dresden, 1945

St. Martin’s. Feb. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9781250258014. $32.50. HIST
February 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the fire-bombing of Dresden, one of the most controversial Allied actions of World War II. Lasting two days, the bombing killed an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 civilians, many of who were fleeing the onslaught of the Soviet Army. MacKay’s (The Secret Lives of Codebreakers) engrossing account of Dresden’s citizens, in the moments before, during, and after the bombings, describes a community trying to manage everyday life in Nazi Germany until a cataclysm interrupted its routine. Included are personal narratives describing the stories of Allied prisoners of war, the accounts of the few remaining Jews, and the experiences of British and American air crews. Most of these crew members had not flown so far over enemy territory; for them, it was another risky mission and extremely fear-filled flight.
VERDICT Well researched, powerfully written, and balanced, this book will let the reader decide whether the bombing of Dresden was a war crime or a calculated step to bring a long and bloody war to an end. For all interested in military history and World War II.
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