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Editorial Reviews

For hundreds of years Dresden, Germany, was a bastion of civilization and culture. Because it was also the center of an extensive railway system and weapons-production facilities, Allied bombers burned the city near the end of WWII, causing a firestorm of destruction and controversy. Michael Prichard's pleasant and resonant voice leads listeners through a well-researched documentary of flight, politics, and technology. He sometimes uses deft pauses to punctuate the quotes, and at other times a theatrical portrayal of the speaker. Prichard handles the abundant German with ease and the sadness of death with sobering respect. While the book on paper might be dull, Prichard's touch brings a welcome luster.

Publisher's Summary

On February 13 and 14, 1945, three successive waves of British and U.S. aircraft rained down thousands of tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs on the largely undefended German city of Dresden. Night and day, Dresden was engulfed in a vast sea of flame, a firestorm that generated 1,500-degree temperatures and hurricane-force winds. Thousands suffocated in underground shelters where they had fled to escape the inferno above. The fierce winds pulled thousands more into the center of the firestorm, where they were incinerated. By the time the fires burned themselves out, many days later, a great city, known as "the Florence on the Elbe", lay in ruins, and tens of thousands, almost all of them civilians, lay dead.

In Firestorm, Marshall De Bruhl re-creates the drama and horror of the Dresden bombing and offers the most cogent appraisal yet of the tactics, weapons, strategy, and rationale for the controversial attack. Using new research and contemporary reports, as well as eyewitness stories of the devastation, De Bruhl directly addresses many long-unresolved questions relating to the bombing: Why did the strike occur when the Allies' victory was seemingly so imminent? Was choosing a city choked with German refugees a punitive decision, intended to humiliate a nation? What, if any, strategic importance did Dresden have? How much did the desire to send a "message" to Imperial Japan, or the advancing Soviet armies, factor into the decision to firebomb the city?

©2007 Marshall De Bruhl; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"De Bruhl [is] quite good at analyzing the tactics that transformed Dresden into an inferno.' (San Francisco Chronicle)

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  • Overall
  • Randall
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 09-12-10

Thorough, interesting discussion

This book sets forth how the Allies, in response to German air-war atrocities, and in response to widespread British desire of for revenge in the wake of the Blitz, proceeded inexorably toward committing their own air-war atrocities. Carpet bombing, or "morale bombing", is traced from its beginning stages through the fire bombing of Dresden a short time before the end of hostilities. I would have enjoyed some more information on to what extent the huge bombing effort against Germany succeeded in slowing industrial production. I would also have liked a more organized statement of what the historical arguments against bombing Dresden have been.
All in all, this is a fine book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • Boulder, CO, United States
  • 04-23-14

Not what I expected but very good

I expected to learn more about the bombing of Dresden. I did, but I also learned the history of bombing, from two Italian pilots dropping grenades on Turks in 1909 to February 14, 1945. Aerial bombing was intended to save lives by making obsolete the massive armies of World War One. A few bombers would fly from a home base, destroy an enemy oil refinery, power station, or ball bearing factory, and return home safely. War with a minimum of casualties. What went wrong with this good intention is the story of this book.

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  • George
  • Denham Springs, Louisiana, United States
  • 02-15-14

A tragic story of wanton destruction.

What did you love best about Firestorm?

What was best about the story was the Historical detail. It was very interesting to learn about the history and evolution to air power.

Any additional comments?

If I could find one criticism it would be that more time was spent on the history of air power and very little on the actual events that surrounded the bombing of Dresden. Dresden's history may have been pivotal but is also somewhat distracting from the main point of the narrative, which is, of course, the details of the bombing.

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Misleading

Another story told from the side of the victors. "Germany evil, allies good. Deserve everything they got." That's the "You Jane, me Tarzan" mentality. In others words dumb.

All I can suggest is people to broaden their reading selection about WWII and similar topics.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ed
  • Pensacola, FL, United States
  • 03-31-14

slanted view of air attacks during war

I could not listen to more than 5 mins of the intro. The intro was against the practice of using bombing during war without any recognition of what war is. Good book for someone that is a pacifist

0 of 4 people found this review helpful