AUTHORGrayling, A. C.
TITLEAmong the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan
PUBLISHERWalker and Company
CITYNew York, NY

This book evaluates the morality of “area bombing” – the strategy of using high explosive and incendiary bombs on whole cities and their civilian populations – employed by Allied forces during World War II. The author, British philosopher A. C. Grayling, analyzes the bomber war conducted by the Allies against Germany and Japan, considering the Allies’ intentions behind the bombings, the nature of the Allied strategy, and highlighting the controversy that surrounded the bombing campaigns during World War II. Throughout his analysis, Grayling relies heavily on an explication of Operation Gomorrah, the Royal Air Force (RAF) bombing of Hamburg, Germany in 1943. He uses the “Nuremberg Principles,” guidelines for determining war crimes first employed during trials of Nazi leaders, to determine whether Allied bombing campaigns meet the criteria of a war crime. Grayling concludes that, since its fundamental purpose is to cause death and destruction to non-military targets, area bombing is morally wrong and not militarily justifiable. With respect to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Grayling considers them far more egregious than Operation Gomorrah, as he ascribes to the view that the dropping of the atomic bomb was an attempt by the U.S. to demonstrate to the Soviet Union the superiority of U.S. weaponry. The book contains an impressive appendix with a comprehensive list of the schedule of RAF bombing attacks on Germany, noting civilian casualties and RAF aircraft losses. Thorough endnotes and an extensive bibliography are included.

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