The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945

Author(s): Jorg Friedrich

Second World War

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 J& ouml;rg 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.


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An obsessively researched, powerfully illustrated account of the Allied bombing of Germany.

"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." -- Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books, German Edition " The Fire represents the continuation of Friedrich's generation's indictment of National Socialism& mdash;except now the finger is pointed at the Allies, and sympathy is extended to the civilian Germans who were their victims." -- The Nation "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." -- Noah Isenberg, Bookforum, German Edition "J& ouml;rg Friedrich's achievement in The Fire has been to tell this tale of death and destruction with a rare plasticity and vividness." -- German Historical Institute London Bulletin, German Edition "Riveting." -- TIME Europe , German Edition "[J& ouml;rg 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." -- New York Times "J& ouml;rg Friedrich tells the story from the viewpoint of the bombed with... great skill and objectivity." -- Paul Johnson, The American Spectator "Thorough and methodical... Friedrich's book underscores that precision bombing is anything but a scientific enterprise." -- Stanley Hoffman, Foreign Affairs "Mr. Friedrich deserves credit for both his diligence and his descriptive powers." -- Economist "An indictment both of Hitler's appropriation of German history and of the Allies' destruction of a nation's culture... Thoughtful and detailed." -- Library Journal "This is a book that demands to be read, no matter how uncomfortable the experience." -- David Cesarani, The Independent "[A] haunting book forceful, incendiary." -- Atlantic Monthly "A well-documented piece of historical writing... [that] is also a poignant, lyrical and terrible account of human suffering." -- Adam R. Seipp, Houston Chronicle "A vivid and powerful critique of war... [ The Fire is] fascinating, ground-breaking, and thought-provoking." -- Roger Moorhouse, BBC History Magazine "Recommended." -- Choice "A contribution to the German literature of remembrance; it is also a passionate denunciation of the excesses of the air war." -- Harold Dorn, Technology and Culture

J& ouml;rg Friedrich was born in Tyrolia in 1944 and grew up in the Ruhr District (Essen). A broadcaster in Berlin, Friedrich became a historian after he reported on the Majdanek Trial during the 1970s. His first comprehensive history of the prosecution of Nazi criminals in Germany, The Cold Amnesty (1984), was a bestseller in the Federal Republic. In 1993 he published a monograph on the forgotten Nuremberg Trial of the German High Command titled The Law of War: The German Army in Russia, which earned him a honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam. The idea for The Fire came to Friedrich accidentally one night in February 2002, and since its publication, the book has been translated into ten languages, sparking debate worldwide.

1. Weapon2. Strategy3. Land4. Protection5. We6. I7. StoneEditorial RemarksNotesBibliography

General Fields

  • : 9780231133814
  • : Columbia University Press
  • : Columbia University Press
  • : March 2008
  • : 229mm X 152mm X 28mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 940.54213
  • : 552
  • : 14 photographs
  • : Jorg Friedrich
  • : Paperback