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Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 49 reviews
on February 28, 2014
Two things are important here: (1) Richard Overy is a (indeed, probably THE) consummate historian of the air war of 1939-45; and (2) this American edition is 300 pages shorter than the original British publication. Overy marshals an amazing amount of information from all sides, melding it into perhaps the best assessment of what was claimed by the RAF and USAAF, what worked--and what did not. There is no other better source for that story.

So why only three stars? Because the American publisher made an inexplicable decision to eliminate fully a third of the original book! Published as THE BOMBING WAR: EUROPE 1939-45 by Allen Lane (Penguin) in Britain in 2013, Overy's intent was to cover BOTH the German use of bombing against Britain, as well as the Allied air campaigns, first by the RAF and later the Combined Operation of both Allied air forces. He drew invaluable comparisons of the two efforts. But the entire first part of the original book (dealing with German's attack on Britain) is totally missing in action here.

So what to do? If your interest centers on the Allied campaign, buy this edition. But if you want the fuller story that assesses how Germany lost the "first" air war of 1939-41 (and its later 1944-45 attempts), and then compares and critiques the efforts of both sides, purchase the (pricier) English edition. In any case, you don't need both!
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on March 14, 2014
Author Richard Overy has written an extremely thorough and detailed work about the Allied bombing effort over Europe in World War II. Although I hear that this edition is somewhat shorter than the one published in the U.K., I still found "The Bombers And The Bombed" to be an informative source about the air war in Europe.

Rather than focusing on accounts of individual raids, Overy's approach was to look at the bombing campaign as a whole and focus on the effects to industry, the Axis war effort, and civilians. At the beginning of the war, both sides tried to be scrupulous in their bombing, avoiding civilians at all costs. This proved to be almost impossible. As the war progressed, both sides quickly abandoned this strategy, first at the Battle of Britain, and then as the Americans and British began their attacks on Germany and the occupied countries.

The British favored the concept of "area bombing", which showed little regard for civilians, while the American 8th air force concentrated on daylight precision bombing of military targets. However, the American tactics still resulted in civilian casualties due to bad weather, poor aiming, and other factors.

The occupied countries of France, Italy, and the Low Countries suffered greatly as well as the Allied bombers strove to destroy German industry being used in these areas. Civilians suffered greatly as "friendly" bombs fell on their homes and places of work.

Overy's work does a fine job of explaining the concept of strategic bombing along with the concept of humanity. Was it "humane" to bomb cities in the hopes of destroying enemy factories, or was it inhuman due to the large number of civilian casualties? Some call the civilian casualties the cost of total war, while others have seen them as unnecessary. Overy describes both points of view in his book.

I highly recommend "The Bombers And The Bombed". Granted, this edition may be shorter than the original, but it still does a fine job of tackling the concept of strategic bombing and civilian casualties.
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on May 25, 2014
This is an excellent book. It describes the controversial Allied bombing strategy during World War II. Early on British Bomber Command adopted whole heartly the tactics the Nazis used during the Blitz, including the use of incendiary bombs and area (or, as we would say today) carpet bombing against primarily civilian targets. They did enormous damage, but did little to slow the Nazi war effort. The Amerians believed in daylight precision bombing, but until very late in the war we could not hit the broad side of a barn. It is all very sad. The strategic bombing campaigns were morally questionable, and generally ineffective in contrast to tactical air support of ground forces. Some readers will surely disagree, but this book raises issues that should be considered by all.

For readers interested in military history, this book is a must.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 16, 2014
Richard Overy is one of that small coterie of brilliant British historians who study World War II. In Overy's latest book the history professor at the University of Exeter focuses his attention on the air war in Europe from 1939-45 Nearly a million civilians died and thousands more were seriously injured as a result of bombing launched by the British Royal Air Force's bomber command and the United States Army Air Force from 1942-45.
The horror from the skies was made possible by the development of long-range multi-engine bombes which dropped bombs in Germany and satellite nations. Italy suffered heavy bombings while England survived the terror of the Luftwaffe's blitz from September-December 1941.
This book is tough going. It is written in a textbook style including technical details of the equipment and planes, air crew training and the strategy employed by the Allies. The British under Arthur "Bomber" Harris favored civilians and conurbation centers of the enemy while the Americans preferred strategic missions to wipe out Nazi communication networks, factories, bridges, dams, canals and military installations. Overy shows how both the Yanks and Brits would become indiscriminate bombers dropping their lethal on the German nation. the bombs did not destroy t he German economy but made its citizens less overtly hostile to the Hitler regime because of the need to receive government help . The Nazi government prepared shelters for the citizens demanding of them training in life saving training in the Red Cross and in Air Raid preparations.
This long book is horrific reading of an horrific human experience. It is very bleak reading on the cruelty of war in the modern era.
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on March 19, 2014
Overy's work is unique in its description and evaluation of aerial bombing in World War II. It reports with thoroughness and clarity, the moral, political, strategic, tactical, and economic issues presented by bombing by the Germans and the Allies. A substantial portion of the book provides detailed references to the source materials on which he has drawn--thus, do not be put off by the substantial length of the book and, for those interested in pursuing any of the issues or facts, take advantage of his guides to the extensive factual records he carefully identifies.

As for the morality of bombing, Overy reports on the deliberations, mainly Allied but also to some extent Nazi, from the very outset of bombing -- even going back to World War I and the Spanish Civil War--through the British and American Bombing of Dresden in early 1945 and the decisions not to bomb the gas chamber and the rail access at Auschwitz.

Covering bombing from the perspectives of both those who bombed and those who suffered the attacks, his account of how both sides in the war handled defense adds usefully to the accounts heretofore of the receiving end of aerial attacks. Although the typical story of bombing concentrates on the planning and execution of aerial attacks, Overy gives equal attention to the aspect of being bombed--antiaircraft preparation, use of radar for warning, losses of bombers, fighters, and trained pilots, civil defense, the effectiveness of damage to factories and to their workers, and to civilian morale and its political implications. Along the way, he does make special efforts to sweep away the vast errors in estimates of destruction--for example, the lingering claim stemming from Goebbels propaganda about deaths at Dresden being ten times what they actually were.

Central to the account is the examination of the tension between American and British experts (as well as among experts of each category) on strategy. The often different assignments--for example between daylight and nighttime bombing. Overy recounts assessments of a few notable actors--among them Goering--after War's end.

Future wars may be so different from World War II as to limit many of the lessons of that experience, but at least the book's review of that last great war might spare a lot of fumbling over issues inherent in big wars.

This work sets a very good standard for reporting and analysis of warfare strategies.
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on May 15, 2017
Quick transaction. Item exactly as described. Thank you!
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on April 10, 2014
Personally, I am interested in answering the question "why did we bomb, when (early in the war, anyway) the results were so poor?" Instead, the author seems to be more fixated on, "why did we bomb, when the enemy had superior air power (not to mention, all those ethical questions about killing civilians, too)". Also, there's precious little information from the perspective of the enemy; one can only imagine, how enlightening that would be. Anyway, bombing in WWII personally is of great interest to me, but, I'm sorry I bought this particular book.
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on March 2, 2015
great book
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on December 8, 2014
good war history
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on May 26, 2014
Adds a great deal to our understanding of the air war in WWII. Unlike other histories, it also includes a serious discussion of the allied bombing in allied countries under Nazi occupation: France, the Netherlands, Italy, etc. lots of new material from German sources. This is the definitive study.
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