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26 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the book it claims to be..., 12 April 2006
This review is from: Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime? (Hardcover)
Grayling presents this book as a necessary corrective to apparent moral complacency in Britain and the USA regarding the bombing of Germany during the second world war. Certainly, events of the last decade have given questions about the ethics of bombing a renewed urgency. But Grayling can only make his claim to be saying something challenging good by downplaying more than sixty years of debate and dispute. There has never been any moral complacency about the bombing campaigns of the second world war, as previous historians have been happy to acknowledge: defences of the strategies of Allied air forces have always had to engage with those seeking to mount a moral or juridical critique of such strategies. There were campaigns against area bombing during the war itself, and the postwar unease in the West about the actions of Harris and Bomber Command in particular has been extensively documented and highly influential: as is well known, the veterans of that arm of the RAF have always felt that their wartime service has been seen as an embarrassment rather than a cause for pride or celebration. Readers seeking some writing on this subject less keen to proclaim its own novelty, and therefore better able to shed genuine light on the points at issue, would do well to look instead at the essays in Firestorm, edited by Paul Addison and Jeremy Crang, or perhaps at Frederick Taylor's Dresden, or even at Max Hastings' old book on Bomber Command. Grayling, alas, actually has little new to add to the debate.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Feb 2010 18:19:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 May 2012 19:11:10 BDT
War is always a pityless affair, in which one tribe/nation attempts to enforce it's will on another, by the systematic application of extreme violence. From the earliest clashes between Stone Age clans, to the Red Army's sack of Berlin, the methods used have always been the same; wholesale murder, destruction by fire, looting and rape; the simple purpose of which is to instill absolute terror in the hearts of the enemy population. To demonstrate clearly to all involved that resistance is futile; and that the wisest policy is surrender.

The bomber offensives of WWII were merely employing the most advanced technology of that time, in modernday actions identical in purpose to the wide ranging cavalry raids of previous centuries; devastation of the economically prosperous regions which underpin a nation's military strength. Without food, fuel ammunition etc..... any army rapidly disintegrates into a mutinous mob. A case can be made for these actions actually being more 'humane' than conventional conflict because, although they inevitably kill large numbers of people; the actual target is the inanimate infrastructure:- farms, crops, bridges, harbours, factories, railway yards, ports, airfields etc.... rather than the individual human beings that constitute the opposing forces.

Pacifistic discussions over the 'morality of war' however, are a luxury granted only those of us spared the necessity of actually fighting/dying to ensure the continued survival of the race/nation/culture etc.... of which we part; because as Leon Trotsky once said, "You may have no interest in war my friend, but war has a very great interest in you!".

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2014 07:47:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Feb 2014 07:50:30 GMT
You completely miss the point of the book and misunderstand the point of these bombings. No, the target absolutely was not the infrastructure, the target was the population. Not many people have too much of a problem with the collateral damage that results from tactical bombings, they are an inevitable result of war. The problem is the deliberate targeting of urban areas with no tactical importance whatsoever. The aim is to terrorise the population into submission via means of carpet bombing. That is where the moral dilemma lies, purposefully targeting innocent civilians instead of going for tactical targets.
You seem to accept this in your first paragraph and then completely refute yourself by equivocating this with tactical bombing in your second paragraph.
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