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The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945.

The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945 by Jorg Friedrich, translated by Allison Brown. Columbia University Press (, 61 W. 62d Street, New York, New York 10023, 2006, 552 pages, $34.95 (hardcover).


War is hell--often even more hellish for civilians than for the military. The Fire is the English translation of the work originally published in German as Der Brand, the latter reviewed by Dr. Douglas Peifer in the Spring 2004 issue of this journal. There is no need to repeat that excellent review here. I would only add that Jorg Friedrich, born in 1944, does not really seem to appreciate the difference between the era of total war and our era of limited war; thus, he focuses on the trials of German civilians under fire. Undoubtedly, that was one of the most terrible experiences in the history of warfare. That Friedrich elsewhere castigates Nazism and the Holocaust really does not relieve the current work of the notion that it is taken out of the context of total war. Even those of us brought up during the later period know that it is hell, having witnessed the experiences of Vietnamese, Korean, and many other civilians who have suffered enormously as a result of war. Nothing much in The Fire is new or unique, and its poor organization makes for very difficult reading. The air warrior/scholar certainly knows that war is hell and has found that out from many other works on strategic bombing in World War II which are better balanced and set in context. The record shows that the military in general already understands this--so much so that civilian leadership often had to push it into war. Air warriors/scholars cannot afford to spend their limited reading time on more than 500 tedious pages to discover what they already know.

Dr. David R. Mets

Maxwell AFB, Alabama

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Author:Mets, David R.
Publication:Air & Space Power Journal
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 22, 2009
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