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on 5 May 2016
Very well researched and documented account of the European bombing war. Despite its length at over 600 pages and its difficult subject matter I found this a very informative and enjoyable read. Thoroughly recommended. It exposes some myths and misinformation in a very well argued manner. It is not a book that is shy of controversy or seeking approval from its readership for its multitude of conclusions . It is what it is and that is a very well researched and referenced work of history.
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on 3 May 2017
Overy can always be relied upon to provide first-class, scholarly work that remains the go-to choice for any professional historian.

As usual, ideal for historians in general, World War Two or specialists in air power.

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on 7 September 2015
An excellent and comprehensive review of the use of bombing during WW11. Discusses the morality of wholesale bombing (the restriction to military targets was quickly forgotten as thje war hotted up). A mammoth work of scholarship (over 800pp) it is unlikely to be supeceded for along time to come (if ever).
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on 15 May 2018
Comprehensive within its scope and well written. Probably the best single volume history of the strategic bombing part of the Second World War, certainly the best I have seen.
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on 21 May 2018
I am enjoying this book. So much new information
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on 3 April 2015
This is the textbook to read if this subject interests you. It is factual, very readable, and will give all you need to know about the abysmal results obtained from bombing ... bombing by all sides in the Second World War in Europe. An excellent history.
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on 4 March 2016
Detailed but perhaps at risk of the wood being overwhelmed by the trees
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on 2 February 2014
Richard Overy answers two key questions: what were the strategic effects of bombing, and was it moral?

Overy says answers to these questions have generated much heat but have relied on a shallow base of evidence. He gives the first full account of the bombing war in Europe 1939 to 1945 (not just in the UK and Germany). His research is impeccable and he is able, as a result of detailed evidence, to come up with a fresh picture.

Bombing in Europe, he says, was never a war-winning strategy and the other services knew it. British Bomber Command wanted to prove its worth as an independent force, but lacking the technology for accurate bombing fell to area-bombing of cities in the belief that given sufficient damage to structures and people Germany would surrender without the need for an army invasion. This aim failed.

Overy also explores how the concept of 'total war' gradually gave acceptance to the deliberate large-scale killing of civilians who were now seen as in the 'front line'.

As a young child I can recall sitting in an Anderson shelter at night hearing the drone of bombers overhead which (it turned out) were on their way to bomb Coventry. We saw the sky lit up with fires. Later, I can recall how the BBC radio news reported the launching of RAF '1000-bomber' raids, with a degree of satisfaction it seemed to me. My young friend's brother was killed - he was a rear gunner in a Lancaster.

This book has allowed me to see the bombing war in a balanced light. Bombing aside, if you have any interest in the Second World War you must read this.
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on 26 January 2014
Richard Overy is a respected academic historian in the field of air history. This large book is best described as a comprehensive overview and consolidation of many monographs and journal articles, diaries, contemporary views and official records concerning bombing in Europe in the Second World War.

Overy has not produced either an encyclopedia or a dictionary and this well-written work introduces the reader to strategic bombing theory, practice, its consequences and aftermath at political, moral, technological and socio-economic levels. The British and US bombing of Germany looms large as one would expect but the German bombing of the Soviet Union, the Allied bombing of Italy and other Axis nations and friendly countries such as France are also discussed.

Overy ranges across the subject and succeeds in making this a story of people as well as a study of the theoretical and organisational development of the respective air forces. At times I thought I was reading a work by Juliet Gardiner (a historian of the home front). This is not a criticism though the extent to which Overy goes into the measures taken by the civilian authorities and their citizens was not what I expected.

I didn't feel I had read new arguments to explain the reasons for strategic bombing in the Second World War in Europe though I learned much. However, this a consolidation of current learning by an expert in his subject. This book, though long, is a good introduction, combining a chronological and thematic approach which makes it easier to identify areas of particular interest. Those who wish to pursue individual topics in greater depth will find an excellent bibliography with which to continue their reading.
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on 31 December 2013
I doubt if there has been a more detailed insight into this aspect of World War II. Details of civil defence measures are perhaps a touch overplayed but interesting nonetheless. The chapters on the offensive against Italy are particularly interesting
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