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

Sinclair McKay. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-25801-4
Historian McKay (The Secret Lives of Codebreakers) portrays Dresden before, during, and immediately after its February 1945 destruction by Allied bombers in this vivid and exhaustive narrative. McKay profiles Dresden residents, including Viktor Kemperer, a philology professor and Jewish convert to Christianity, and 15-year-old Winfried Bielss, a member of the Hitler Youth, and sketches the city’s favored status among British and American socialites, which locals hoped would keep them safe from attack. On the night of February 13, however, nearly 800 Royal Air Force bombers took off from England for Dresden; their objective, according to McKay, was to “create an atmosphere of panic” among the population, which included thousands of refugees fleeing the Red Army’s advance into northern Germany. The planes carried 4,000-pound “Blockbuster” bombs and incendiary devices intended to spark fires in the wreckage. Drawing from memoirs, letters, and diaries, McKay describes people huddling in cellars, many of which collapsed or became suffocating from heat, smoke, and lack of oxygen, and emerging to find burning corpses, melting roads, and an estimated mile-high conflagration in the city center. An estimated 25,000 people died in three waves of Allied attacks over two days. McKay’s extensive research and animated prose capture the terror and tragedy of the bombing. Readers won’t soon forget this devastating account. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/18/2019
Release date: 02/04/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-26136-6
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