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For five years during the Second World War, the Allies launched a trial and error bombing campaign against Germany's historical city landscape. Peaking in the war's final three months, it was the first air attack of its kind. Civilian dwellings were struck by-in today's terms-"weapons of mass destruction," with a total of 600,000 casualties, including 70,000 children.
In The Fire, historian Jörg Friedrich explores this crucial chapter in military and world history. Combining meticulous research with striking illustrations, Friedrich presents a vivid account of the saturation bombing, rendering in acute detail the annihilation of cities such as Dresden, the jewel of Germany's rich art and architectural heritage. He incorporates the personal stories and firsthand testimony of German civilians into his narrative, creating a macabre portrait of unimaginable suffering, horror, and grief, and he draws on official military documents to unravel the reasoning behind the strikes.
Evolving military technologies made the extermination of whole cities possible, but owing, perhaps, to the Allied victory and what W. G. Sebald noted as "a pre-conscious self-censorship, a way of obscuring a world that could no longer be presented in comprehensible terms," the wisdom of this strategy has never been questioned. The Fire is a rare account of the air raids as they were experienced by the civilians who were their targets.
Columbia University Press
— Ian Buruma
The Fire represents the continuation of Friedrich's generation's indictment of National Socialism—except now the finger is pointed at the Allies, and sympathy is extended to the civilian Germans who were their victims.
— Noah Isenberg
Jörg Friedrich's achievement in The Fire has been to tell this tale of death and destruction with a rare plasticity and vividness.
[Jörg Friedrich] describes in stark, unrelenting and very literary detail what happened in city after city as the Allies dropped 80 million incendiary bombs on Germany.... There is … an edginess to Friedrich's writing and commentary, an emotional power.
— Paul Johnson
— Stanley Hoffman
Mr. Friedrich deserves credit for both his diligence and his descriptive powers.
— David Cesarani
[A] haunting book… forceful, incendiary.
— Adam R. Seipp
— Roger Moorhouse
— Harold Dorn
Exhaustive and harrowing … Friedrich's aim seems to be not only to wrest the history of German suffering from the clutch of the far right but to rescue the glories of German history from the twelve years of Hitler's thousand-year Reich.
What W. G. Sebald lamented about the lack of open discourse on the air war appears to have been blown apart with the publication of The Fire.
Jörg Friedrich tells the story from the viewpoint of the bombed with... great skill and objectivity.
Thorough and methodical... Friedrich's book underscores that precision bombing is anything but a scientific enterprise.
This is a book that demands to be read, no matter how uncomfortable the experience.
A well-documented piece of historical writing... [that] is also a poignant, lyrical and terrible account of human suffering.
A vivid and powerful critique of war... [ The Fire is] fascinating, ground-breaking, and thought-provoking.
A contribution to the German literature of remembrance; it is also a passionate denunciation of the excesses of the air war.
Jörg Friedrich unravels the history behind: The Flying Fortress The Master Bomber The creep-back effect The German-British radar war The Kammhuber Line The art of jamming The "Wild Boar" and the "Tame Boar" Winston Churchill and the never-fought campaign of 1919 Operation Millennium: the Thousand-Bomber Raid on Cologne The ruins of Remscheid The conscience of the physicists The Dambusters Raid and the modern-day Flood The Arnhem operation and the demise of Emmerich and Kleve The massacre of Swinemünde Lübeck and Thomas Mann's message Anklam's columns of smoke Wismar; the red-hot bricks Danzig and the war against the roots Hamburg, or the interruption of the world The cathedral in Minden where Henry the Lion wed Bielefeld and the Bethel asylum Duisburg; the earthquake bomb The luck of Koblenz The "flaming brands" of Worms Augsburg and the fire in the frost Heilbronn and the inverse terror Identification squads The largest book-burning of all time.
1. Weapon2. Strategy3. Land4. Protection5. We6. I7. StoneEditorial RemarksNotesBibliography
Columbia University Press