Top positive review
A great history of a difficult and vital subject
on 17 July 2015
Superb account of a most challenging subject full of moral as well as shifting military dilemmas. Hastings, as always, addresses topics from multiple perspectives to allow you to make your own judgement. Of course he doesn't avoid presenting his conclusions but you feel you are given the information to disagree with him.
The entire book, from start to finish, is compelling, but one chapter deserves highlighting. His detailed description of the bombing of Darmstadt on 9/11 1944 is stunning and somewhat chilling noting subsequent events 50+ years later. Some 12,000 people, mostly civilians including many children, were killed that night.
In addition though to describing the horror of the bombing on both the bombing crew and the "bombed" Hastings also looked at the operational costs and introduced, to me, the notion that the deployment of bombers had both strategic and tactical failings. For example the continued area bombing of cities came at huge expense while the potential of sustained bombing of oil facilities, which would have had more impact, was not exploited.
Hasting's assessment, towards the end of the book, that "Bomber Command was very well served by its aircrew, and with a very few exceptions very badly served by its senior officers, in the Second World War" is hard to argue with.