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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.  

In February 1945 the Allies obliterated Dresden, the 'Florence of the Elbe'. Explosive bombs weighing over 1,000 lbs fell every seven and a half seconds and an estimated 25,000 people were killed. Was Dresden a legitimate military target or was the bombing a last act of atavistic mass murder in a war already won?  

From the history of the city to the attack itself, conveyed in a minute-by-minute account from the first of the flares to the flames reaching almost a mile high - the wind so searingly hot that the lungs of those in its path were instantly scorched - through the eerie period of reconstruction, best-selling author Sinclair McKay creates a vast canvas and brings it alive with touching human detail.  

Along the way we encounter, for example, a Jewish woman who thought the English bombs had been sent from heaven, novelist Kurt Vonnegut who wrote that the smouldering landscape was like walking on the surface of the moon, and 15-year-old Winfried Bielss, who, having spent the evening ushering refugees, wanted to get home to his stamp collection. He was not to know that there was not enough time. 

Impeccably researched and deeply moving, McKay uses never-before-seen sources to relate the untold stories of civilians and vividly conveys the texture of life in a decimated city. Dresden is invoked as a byword for the illimitable cruelties of war, but with the ever-lengthening distance of time, it is now possible to approach this subject with a much clearer gaze, less occluded with the weight of prejudice in either direction, and with a keener interest in the sorts of lives that ordinary people lived and lost, or tried to rebuild.   

From general and individual morality in war to the raw, primal instinct for survival, through the seemingly unstoppable gravity of mass destruction and the manipulation of memory, this is a master historian at work.      

©2020 Sinclair McKay (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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  • Skevos Mavros
  • 21-02-20

The harrowing but balanced story of Dresden

The author balances detail with broad overview, and tells the story of the bombing of Dresden through the eyes and experiences of many of its citizens. The audio book is read clearly and well.

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  • M. Lloyd
  • 22-06-20

Some good descriptions but frustrating conclusion

As a description of much of what happened i had no complaints. But i was uneasy with the conclusions discussion about whether the carpet bombing of Dresden civilizan population was or was not a war crime. I felt some strong arguments were quite glib. If you read for example Sir Ian Kershaw work he is much clearer that UK command knew Germany was basically defeated by this point, that the military targets were weak to say the least and it was a conscious attempt to break the spirit of the civilian population and hasten regime collapse. Killing 20,000 men women and children for that warranted a better analysis than was offered in the discussion at the end of this particular book. Nonetheless worth reading from description of event.

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  • Q C.
  • 04-06-20

In Depth Horrific

Without doubt the best work I have read on Dresden. A real piece of work giving an insight into the people, city and politics of Dresden. Historical, contextual and without judgement. We all know there is a famous disturbing and distorted book out there, and lazy journalists will regurgitate parts of it despite the discredit of the content and author. Work based on a lie. Here is a fascinating story, social history, military history and human history. If parts of this thoroughly put together work don’t interest you, then move to another part, it does work like that but I stayed for the whole show and it was well worth it. Good enough to want make me research even more, and visit Dresden. Excellent highly recommended, I shall listen again in a few months.

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  • Steve
  • 10-04-20

Gripping

If you wanted to understand the destruction of a city in one night this audiobook starts with the history explaining the beauty of the city then the destruction then the rebuild. Strongly recommend.

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  • Elibear
  • 23-06-20

Brilliant book

Well researched, very thought provoking and delivered excellently. I really enjoyed this book. Thanks.

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  • Craig
  • 25-05-20

A terrible part of WW2 History.

A very well researched book and well narrated. A terrible story brought to the listeners about a period of the war that is sometimes forgotten. Everyone suffers in wars. Friends and foe alike.

1 person found this helpful