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Customer Review

on 29 March 2014
Richard Overy's book is the definitive account of the various bombing campaigns of the Second World War and is likely to remain so for a long time.
It's a serious academic book (although very well written) and some of the detail of the bombing of the Balkans, for example, may encourage the casual reader to skip; but that would be a shame. The book is firmly based on documentary sources (the author seems to have read everything) and its account of the various campaigns, as well as its judgements, seem hard to do better.
Two conclusions stand out from the mass of carefully-marshalled detail. One is that bombing uniformly failed in what it was intended to do, whether that was economic dislocation or simply killing and terrorizing the population. The anticipated effects of bombing were always faith-based, flowing largely from political desperation and the lack of alternatives. Secondly, the kind of battle between "air fleets" predicted by prophets of air power like Douhet in the 1920s, did, in a sense, happen, though not in the way, or in the timescale, that they ever envisaged.
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