Flames Over Tokyo

E. Bartlett Kerr, Author Dutton Books $22.95 (348p) ISBN 978-1-55611-301-7
Kerr's notable study recounts how U.S. Air Force general Curtis LeMay, unable to destroy Japan's war factories with conventional bombs from high altitude by daylight, made a radical departure from strategic bombing doctrine by sending an air armada over Tokyo on the night of March 9-10, 1945 at low altitude, loaded with bombs designed to set fire to Japan's highly combustible cities. The destruction was awesome: 83,000 killed, more than a million left homeless. In the ensuing five months B-29 bombers dropping incendiaries destroyed or heavily damaged some 60 Japanese cities. Kerr also describes the campaign from ground level, reporting details of the futile firefighting efforts, the overwhelming medical challenge and the massive corpse-disposal problem. His riveting narrative reveals how the raid affected virtually every facet of Japanese day-to-day life, crippled war production and led the emperor and his advisers to accept Allied demands for surrender after the ultimate firebombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kerr is author of Surrender and Survival: The Experience of American POWs in the Pacific, 1941-1945. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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