Inferno

Overview

In the summer of 1943, British and American bombers launched an attack on the German city of Hamburg that was unlike anything the world had ever seen. For ten days they pounded the city with over 9,000 tons of bombs, with the intention of erasing it entirely from the map. The fires they created were so huge they burned for a month and were visible for 200 miles.

The people of Hamburg had no time to understand what had hit them. As they emerged from their ruined cellars and air ...

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Inferno: The Fiery Destruction of Hamburg, 1943

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Overview

In the summer of 1943, British and American bombers launched an attack on the German city of Hamburg that was unlike anything the world had ever seen. For ten days they pounded the city with over 9,000 tons of bombs, with the intention of erasing it entirely from the map. The fires they created were so huge they burned for a month and were visible for 200 miles.

The people of Hamburg had no time to understand what had hit them. As they emerged from their ruined cellars and air raid shelters, they were confronted with a unique vision of hell: a sea of flame that stretched to the horizon, the burned-out husks of fire engines that had tried to rescue them, roads that had become flaming rivers of melted tarmac. Even the canals were on fire.

Worse still, they had to battle hurricane-force winds to escape the blaze. The only safe places were the city's parks, but to reach them survivors had to stumble through temperatures of up to 800°C and a blizzard of sparks strong enough to lift grown men off their feet.

Inferno is the culmination of several years of research and the first comprehensive account of the Hamburg firestorm to be published in almost thirty years.

Keith Lowe has interviewed eyewitnesses in Britain, Germany, and America, and gathered together hundreds of letters, diaries, firsthand accounts, and documents. His book gives the human side of an inhuman story: the long, tense buildup to the Allied attack; the unparalleled horror of the firestorm itself; and the terrible aftermath. The result is an epic story of devastation and survival, and a much-needed reminder of the human face of war.

Includes nineteen maps and thirty-one photographs, many never seen before

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Not since Len Deighton's classic Bomber has there been a book which re-created with such objectivity both sides of the story, or which painted in such vivid detail the destruction of a city, and the sufferings of those who lived there, and those British and American young men who put their lives at risk to destroy it."

— Michael Korda, author of Ulysses S. Grant and Journey to a Revolution

"Facts and figures cannot do justice to the sheer horror of what happened to Hamburg in July 1943. But Keith Lowe's admirable book, which is impeccably researched and engagingly written, is full of moving little details and stories. A thoroughly engaging and sobering book. There are rather too many military histories of the Second World War, but this one deserves its place on the shelves."

— Dominic Sandbrook, The Daily Telegraph (London)

"If anyone still believes that war is a glamorous business, they should read this brilliantly researched book. The author has produced many new firsthand accounts, which give a human face to a tale of epic destruction."

— Paul Callan, Daily Express (London)

"Was the destruction of Hamburg an Allied war crime or the moment when ordinary Germans realized that they couldn't win the struggle except at prohibitive cost? Or was it perhaps both? Keith Lowe's admirably objective book allows you to make your own judgment on the only criterion that counts: what Total War really meant at the time."

— Andrew Roberts, author of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900

"This is a brilliant book with a skillful mix of eyewitness accounts and deeply researched narrative. The appalling stories of German civilians caught in the Hamburg firestorm are balanced with the equally mind-numbing experiences of the RAF, USAAF, and Luftwaffe aircrews who battled in the skies over Europe by day and night."

— Major General Julian Thompson

"A real triumph: shocking, yet sensitive and supremely fair-minded. This is a wonderful book about hellish events."

— Richard Holmes, author of Acts of War and editor of The Oxford Companion to Military History

"A grim and timely reminder of the terrible cost of war, Inferno is a brilliantly told story of the destruction of Hamburg by the Allies in 1943 by a talented new author. Keith Lowe writes compassionately of death, agony, courage, and survival in the hell of a doomed city. Highly recommended."

— Carlo D'Este, author of Decision in Normandy and Eisenhower

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743269018
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 4/24/2009
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 816,582
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Lowe is an editor in the United Kingdom and the author of Tunnel Vision. He lives in London.

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