Cover image for The fire and the darkness : the bombing of Dresden, 1945
Title:
The fire and the darkness : the bombing of Dresden, 1945
ISBN:
9781250258014
Edition:
1st U.S. ed.
Physical Description:
xxv, 369, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.
Contents:
Part one: the approaching fury. The days before -- In the forests of the Gauleiter -- The dethroning of reason -- Art and degeneracy -- The glass man and the physicists -- 'A sort of little London' -- The science of doomsday -- The correct atmospheric conditions -- Hosing out -- The devil will get no rest -- Part two: Schreckensnacht. The day of darkness -- Five minutes before the sirens -- Into the abyss -- Shadows and light -- 10.03 p.m. -- The burning eyes -- Midnight -- The second wave -- From among the dead -- The third wave -- Part three: aftershock. Dead men and dreamers -- The radiant tombs -- The meanings of terror -- The music of the dead -- Recoil -- 'The Stalinist style' -- Beauty and remembrance.
Summary:
A gripping work of narrative nonfiction recounting the history of the Dresden Bombing, one of the most devastating attacks of World War II. On February 13th, 1945 at 10:03 PM, British bombers began one of the most devastating attacks of WWII: the bombing of Dresden. The first contingent killed people and destroyed buildings, roads, and other structures. The second rained down fire, turning the streets into a blast furnace, the shelters into ovens, and whipping up a molten hurricane in which the citizens of Dresden were burned, baked, or suffocated to death. Early the next day, American bombers finished off what was left. Sinclair McKay's The Fire and the Darkness is a pulse-pounding work of history that looks at the life of the city in the days before the attack, tracks each moment of the bombing, and considers the long period of reconstruction and recovery. The Fire and the Darkness is powered by McKay's reconstruction of this unthinkable terror from the points of view of the ordinary civilians: Margot Hille, an apprentice brewery worker; Gisela Reichelt, a ten-year-old schoolgirl; boys conscripted into the Hitler Youth; choristers of the Kreuzkirche choir; artists, shop assistants, and classical musicians, as well as the Nazi officials stationed there. What happened that night in Dresden was calculated annihilation in a war that was almost over. Sinclair McKay's brilliant work takes a complex, human, view of this terrible night and its aftermath in a gripping book that will be remembered long after the last page is turned. --
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Copies
Status
Searching...
Book 940.54213 MCK 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 940.54213 MCK 0 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 940.54213 MCK 0 1
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

A gripping work of narrative nonfiction recounting the history of the Dresden Bombing, one of the most devastating attacks of World War II.

On February 13th, 1945 at 10:03 PM, British bombers began one of the most devastating attacks of WWII: the bombing of Dresden. The first contingent killed people and destroyed buildings, roads, and other structures. The second rained down fire, turning the streets into a blast furnace, the shelters into ovens, and whipping up a molten hurricane in which the citizens of Dresden were burned, baked, or suffocated to death.

Early the next day, American bombers finished off what was left. Sinclair McKay's The Fire and the Darkness is a pulse-pounding work of history that looks at the life of the city in the days before the attack, tracks each moment of the bombing, and considers the long period of reconstruction and recovery. The Fire and the Darkness is powered by McKay's reconstruction of this unthinkable terror from the points of view of the ordinary civilians: Margot Hille, an apprentice brewery worker; Gisela Reichelt, a ten-year-old schoolgirl; boys conscripted into the Hitler Youth; choristers of the Kreuzkirche choir; artists, shop assistants, and classical musicians, as well as the Nazi officials stationed there.

What happened that night in Dresden was calculated annihilation in a war that was almost over. Sinclair McKay's brilliant work takes a complex, human, view of this terrible night and its aftermath in a gripping book that will be remembered long after the last page is turned.


Author Notes

SINCLAIR MCKAY is the bestselling author of The Secret Lives of Codebreakers (published in the UK as The Secret Life of Bletchley Park) and The Secret Listeners for Aurum , as well as several other books. Sinclair is a literary critic for the Telegraph and The Spectator and for three years was a judge of the Encore Prize, awarded annually for best second novel. He lives in the shadow of Canary Wharf in east London.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Historian McKay (The Secret Lives of Codebreakers) portrays Dresden before, during, and immediately after its February 1945 destruction by Allied bombers in this vivid and exhaustive narrative. McKay profiles Dresden residents, including Viktor Kemperer, a philology professor and Jewish convert to Christianity, and 15-year-old Winfried Bielss, a member of the Hitler Youth, and sketches the city's favored status among British and American socialites, which locals hoped would keep them safe from attack. On the night of February 13, however, nearly 800 Royal Air Force bombers took off from England for Dresden; their objective, according to McKay, was to "create an atmosphere of panic" among the population, which included thousands of refugees fleeing the Red Army's advance into northern Germany. The planes carried 4,000-pound "Blockbuster" bombs and incendiary devices intended to spark fires in the wreckage. Drawing from memoirs, letters, and diaries, McKay describes people huddling in cellars, many of which collapsed or became suffocating from heat, smoke, and lack of oxygen, and emerging to find burning corpses, melting roads, and an estimated mile-high conflagration in the city center. An estimated 25,000 people died in three waves of Allied attacks over two days. McKay's extensive research and animated prose capture the terror and tragedy of the bombing. Readers won't soon forget this devastating account. (Feb.)


Kirkus Review

A history of the 1945 bombing that made Dresden "a totem to the obscenity of total war."On the evening of Feb. 13, 1945, writes British literary critic McKay (The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book, 2019, etc.), British bombers unleashed a savage attack on the Nazi-controlled city of Dresden, killing some 25,000 people and turning the "Florence on the Elbe," as the elegant cultural center was known, into "a burnt and bloody wilderness." The bombing was the focus of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, based on his experiences during the historic firestorm as a prisoner of war. After describing life in Dresden before the bombing, McKay re-creates the nighttime attack in the words of residents as well as German officials, Allied commanders and bomb crews, and many others. "No one could ever imagine that our city would be the victim of a cruel and senseless bombing," says Gisela Reichelt, who was 10 at the time. Hers was among many eyewitness accounts McKay examined in the city's archives. Like others, she dismissed the nighttime air-raid alarmsthey had always proven falsethat preceded the dropping of nearly 4,000 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices. Payloads from hundreds of planes set the city on fire, tore buildings apart, and dismembered people in shelters. With good weather and few Nazi defenses, young airmen pursuing "just another target" found Dresden was "theirs to incinerate." McKay's harrowing narrative conjures the "satanic music" of passing aircraft and the burning of corpses whose stench was still recalled years later, all set against the daily malevolence of life under the Gestapo. Many immediately questioned the morality of bombing a city of limited strategic importance (it was a rail transport hub). American planes engaged in subsequent Dresden raids. The city, including its baroque churches and concert halls, has since been restored.A full and powerful account of warfare that ignored the distinction between military and civilian objectives. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Of cities destroyed in WWII, Dresden, where British and American air attacks that killed about 25,000 people, has attracted extensive authorial attention. Whether the event's prominence derives from the target's rich architectural and artistic heritage, or debate about the attack's moral justification, its narrative of horror can be luridly riveting when written well. Best-selling McKay (The Secret Lives of Codebreakers, 2012) does so. Sketching Dresden's landmarks built over centuries, he conveys the charm the city exerted on inhabitants and visitors alike. Setting the stage for February 13, 1945, McKay describes how various Dresdeners scrambled for air raid shelters as sirens wailed, and how they survived the ensuing apocalyptic conflagration. Conversely, McKay recounts the background to the RAF's bombing campaign against Germany, and why he considers the RAF officer in charge, Arthur Harris, to be controversial. More sympathetic to RAF air crew, he underscores their risks flying the Lancaster bomber as he builds up to their experience of carrying out the Dresden mission. Concluding with Dresden's prolonged postwar reconstruction, McKay rounds out a high-quality rendition of the actuality and symbolism of Dresden's devastation.


Library Journal Review

February 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the fire-bombing of Dresden, one of the most controversial Allied actions of World War II. Lasting two days, the bombing killed an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 civilians, many of who were fleeing the onslaught of the Soviet Army. MacKay's (The Secret Lives of Codebreakers) engrossing account of Dresden's citizens, in the moments before, during, and after the bombings, describe a community trying to manage everyday life in Nazi Germany until a cataclysm interrupted its routine. Included are personal narratives describing the stories of Allied prisoners of war, the accounts of the few remaining Jews, and the experiences of British and American air crews. Most of these crew members had not flown so far over enemy territory; for them, it was another risky mission and extremely fear-filled flight. VERDICT Well researched, powerfully written, and balanced, this book will let the reader decide whether the bombing of Dresden was a war crime or a calculated step to bring a long and bloody war to an end. For all interested in military history and World War II.--Beth Dalton, Littleton, CO


Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Mapsp. xi
Preface: The City in Timep. xix
Part 1 The Approaching Fury
1 The Days Beforep. 3
2 In the Forests of the Gauleiterp. 16
3 The Dethroning of Reasonp. 29
4 Art and Degeneracyp. 41
5 The Glass Man and the Physicistsp. 58
6 'A Sort of Little London'p. 70
7 The Science of Doomsdayp. 81
8 The Correct Atmospheric Conditionsp. 95
9 Hosing Outp. 108
10 The Devil Will Get No Restp. 118
Part 2 Schreckensnacht
11 The Day of Darknessp. 129
12 Five Minutes Before the Sirensp. 148
13 Into the Abyssp. 153
14 Shadows and Lightp. 165
15 10.03 p.m.p. 171
16 The Burning Eyesp. 182
17 Midnightp. 200
18 The Second Wavep. 207
19 From Among the Deadp. 227
20 The Third Wavep. 236
Part 3 Aftershock
21 Dead Men and Dreamersp. 247
22 The Radiant Tombsp. 255
23 The Meanings of Terrorp. 266
24 The Music of the Deadp. 278
25 Recoilp. 289
26 'The Stalinist Style'p. 300
27 Beauty and Remembrancep. 314
Acknowledgementsp. 321
Selected Bibliographyp. 323
Notesp. 326
Indexp. 351