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The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War…
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The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe, 1940-1945

by Richard Overy

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This magisterial account of the bombing campaign in Europe asks two very good questions: how did liberal democracies come to bomb civilian populations; and what did the bombing accomplish. Overy traces step-by-step the evolution of bombing strategy and policy, showing how the allies, especially Britain, could justify the collateral damage caused by inaccurate and ineffective area bombing. Indeed, using data gathered by survey teams, Overy demonstrates that the bombing was largely ineffective through 1943. Thereafter, the American 8th Air Force Group developed long-range fighters that could accompany the bombers over Germany. The resulting pressure on German defense systems forced the Germans to pull fighters from all theaters of war, ensuring Allied supremacy from the middle of 1944 on.

Why didn’t the German population crack and revolt? The bombing had the effect of making the population more, not less, reliant on the party for disaster recovery efforts, compensation, etc. At the same time, industrial output rose considerably in spite of the bombing, at least until late 1944.

The only disappointing aspect of this well-written and well-researched book is that Overy’s chapter on lessons learned did not apply these lessons to such instances as the American “shock and awe” bombing during the first Gulf War. Indeed, Overy shows that close tactical air support can be crucial on the battle field and will probably yield more results that strategic bombing. This is a lesson all militaries must learn. ( )
  barlow304 | Jul 14, 2015 |
The quality of scholarship and analysis is excellent, but you should be advised you have to plow through mountains of statistics that belonged in an appendix. Also needed major editing, the paragraphs in many cases are intolerably lengthy, sometimes in excess of a page, and tend to lose the thread and force of the explanation. ( )
  VGAHarris | Jan 19, 2015 |
I think objectively this book is very well done. The author includes a lot of very detailed statistics but mixes them in with fun facts, first-hand anecdotes, and fascinating stories. However, for me, this was just more detail than I needed on the topic. I felt the story got bogged down by details of exact numbers and dates. There were a number of people mentioned, but I couldn't keep them straight because we were never given any personal information about any them and they all blurred together. The timeline was hard to follow because (at least in my ARC) dates usually didn't include the year and in chapters that spanned multiple years, this could be confusing. I think had I finished this, I'd have given it three stars because I didn't enjoy it, but I think someone with more interest in the topic could.
  DoingDewey | Jun 29, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670025151, Hardcover)

The ultimate history of the Allied bombing campaigns in World War II

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:16 -0400)

A history of the Allied bombing campaigns of World War II questions the morality of British and American attacks on occupied European cities while offering insight into the course of the civilian front line of the Allied air war as it was shaped by political strategies.… (more)

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