[Review] The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied War Over Europe 1940-1945 by Richard Overy
Author: Richard Overy
Publisher: Viking Penguin, a Random House Company February 20, 2014
Genre: World War II, Bombings over Europe, Planes, Allied, Axis, Germany, America, England.
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Viking in exchange for a review.
During World War II (1939-1945) "600,000 European civilians were killed by bomb attack and well over a million more were seriously injured, in some cases physically or mentally disabled for life." Page xi
It is with these sobering statistics, Richard Overy, begins a detailed overview of the bombers who bombed in order to destroy the Axis powers of World War II.
The main thrust of the book is on the bombers of the Allied forces: the Bomber Command of Great Britain and the American forces (principally the 8th Air Force).
There is limited information in the book on Germany's Blitz of England.
Germany's bomber force is also written in brief.
The civilian work on the ground in Germany is explored: volunteer firemen who put out the fires, preparing civilians for escape and shelter, destruction statistics, and rebuilding.
There is a chapter on the bombings by the Allied forces on the countries who were either the enemy or were occupied by the enemy. These countries were Bulgaria, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.
An in-depth study of bombs and incendiary bombs make up more than one chapter. This includes statistics on how many were dropped, where they were dropped, destruction which occurred, and a surreal survey of the destroyed cities after the war.
An ending chapter is on reflection, questioning choices which were made.
The book is lengthy, detailed, organized well. It is a text book treatise on the Allied bombers of World War II over Europe.
While reading the book I wondered why there was not information on Germany's bombings in England, only a reference is given. After reading a few comments at Amazon, I was surprised to learn the original edition of the book has a chapter on the history of the London Blitz, but this edition left out the chapter. I will not speculate on an answer.
This book is not a human interest story, there are few personal stories of those who were the bombers or the bombed. But, this was not the intention from the beginning. The author is straight forward in the preface on what his aims are.
The preface is excellent. I love the authors organization and serious nature of writing the book. One of his aims was to look at "archive sources in both countries", and not just "narratives". A point which I had not known about the cities which were bombed, "For most European societies there is no official history."
If you are looking for a human interest story, this is not a book you would want to read.
If you love to read World War II history and want a heavy study on the bombers and the bombed, then this is the book for you.
In my opinion, after World War II ended, this book would not have been published. The Allied forces were glad the war was over, and they could go on with their lives. For Europe, especially for Germany, they were the defeated enemy, rebuilding the nation is what they poured their strength into. For both sides, revisiting what happened, which included mistakes made, was not an option. It's been almost 69 years since the war ended. It is with a strong conviction that I state Germany had to be defeated, as well as Italy, and Japan.
There was no plan B.
Link @ Amazon: The Bombers and the Bombed.
For the full version and original edition: The Bombing War, published September 26, 2013 at 821 pages.