Friday, January 12, 2018

A "Fire and Fury" Book of the Other Kind

Fire and Fury - The Allied Bombing of Germany 1942-45, a book published ten years ago by Randall Hansen, is getting some press through its title similarity to Michael Wolff's explosive and current best-seller Fire and Fury - Inside the Trump White House.

I obtained the book not long after it hit the bookstores and promptly got down to reading it. First off I should say that one of the few subjects I could be considered to be knowledgeable about is that of the Allied bombing campaign of World War II -- I've interviewed many airmen, and have done much research over the last thirty odd years, including at the Royal Canadian Military Institute here in Toronto -- so when I tackle a new book so late in my absorption of the subject I'm looking at it from a very critical perspective.

To review Hansen's Fury properly for this blog I'd have to re-read it, but suffice to say here and now I was very unimpressed.

What was obvious to me was the author's axe-grind. Hansen 'reveals' some points as though he is the first to do so. We've known for many years, starting with the United States Strategic Bombing Survey done immediately after the war, that "area bombing" did not do what Arthur "Bomber" Harris had hoped -- bring the German war effort to its knees. We know that the daylight precision attacks undertaken by the U.S. achieved greater war-influencing levels. Also, historian Martin Middlebrook wrote in great detail in his books The Berlin Raids, The Nuremberg Raid, and The Battle of Hamburg about the German civilians who took the bombs night after night. His interviews with those illegitimate targets on the ground are exemplary. (When I spoke with Mr Middlebrook in England some years ago he gave me great advice regarding research.)

What aerial bombing did and did not do is an ongoing debate -- I too do not have many concrete answers. There's a demon in the mix: Statistics. (Statistics are always part of more statistics.)

In fairness to Mr Hansen, to 'review' further here I must again read Fire and Fury - The Allied Bombing of Germany 1942-45.

Right now I'd rather read Fire and Fury - Inside the Trump White House.

No comments: