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The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945
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The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  126 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
For five years during the Second World War, the Allies launched a trial and error bombing campaign against Germany's historical city landscape. Peaking in the war's final three months, it was the first air attack of its kind. Civilian dwellings were struck by-in today's terms-"weapons of mass destruction," with a total of 600,000 casualties, including 70,000 children.

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Hardcover, 532 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Columbia University Press (first published 2002)
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“Fire…We’re going to put him in it. That’s saying, friends, that we’re going to put fire around him, all around him. We’re going to put it over him and underneath him. We’re going to bring it down on him and on to him. We’re going to put it in his eyes and up his asshole… and in his baby’s diaper. We’re going to put it in his pockets, where he can’t get rid of it…
- the opening lines of James Dickey’s To the White Sea

Before the rubble had even stopped bouncing at the end of World War II, the vic
Aleksandr Voinov
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, own, war, wwii
I read "Der Brand" as research for a short story I'm planning to write. I tried to read this years ago, but was getting too emotionally involved (my family on my father's side is from around Dresden, other parts of my family are from around Essen - both cities that were put on the pyre of "moral bombing"). When I tried this again, it was still rough and I struggled. Could do about 20-30 pages per day and needed a break. Having empathy and imagination can be a problem. That said, it's a tour de f ...more
My friend from Frankurt cried during "Der Untergang". She had seen movies of her home town undergoing similar destruction. This book taught me to understand, even if it could use more Frankfurt.

A gripping look at the effects of the Allied bombing campaign on the cities of Germany. There is no strategic map spread afar over Bomber Command's table. The beat is neither the drone of the B-29 or the hungry rattle of the Flak towers. The sound are the cries of carnage and a lithany of architectural le
I cannot recommend this book for the general reader, except perhaps as a reference on anything and everything about the air war over Germany in World War II. The work is, as one critic of the book claimed, “An encyclopedia of pain” (p. 486). For the specialist, on the other hand, the book is essential reading. Written by a German historian and translated into English by Allison Brown, the book provides compelling and exhaustive evidence about the Allied air war against Germany. Friedrich’s resea ...more
Aug 21, 2010 added it
I am of two minds about this book. On the one hand, it is Friedrich's great achievement to present to the general public a detailed account of the US/UK bombing campaign against German (and some other west European) cities. Friedrich, who is completely unsuspected of being a revisionist historian, tells of a crime that nobody - not in Germany, not in England or in America - ever really wanted to talk about in the face of the much greater crimes committed by Nazi Germany. So thumbs up to the auth ...more
Dec 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this book upon my German father's recommendation. It was not an easy read as a first-born American daughter of German immigrants who lived through World War II as children.
It changed my entire opinion of the Americans and British being the "good guys" of WWII. The complete devastation of most of Germany's city/town centers and the targeting of civilian populations horrified me. (A lot of effort was invested in figuring out how to create the perfect fire storm which would destroy the close
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is a necessary book. I was surprised on reading Sebald's book about the air war that German post-war writers had singularly failed to address it.

This is an unemotional and objective account of the systematic destruction by fire and high explosive of a thousand years of German culture, which took 600,000 lives in the process. 70,000 of whom were children, and destroyed every German city of any size and some that were mere towns of no consequence, other than that they housed German civilians.
Chris Witt
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember the last time it took me this long to get through a book, but this was one that I could only digest in 15-minute doses on the way to/from work. It doesn't make for the best nighttime reading material.

Thoroughly researched and thoroughly exhausting to read, "Der Brand" ("The Fire") is about as detailed an account as you can probably find on the bombing of Germany during World War II.

Friedrich gives what I found to be a very neutral, matter-of-fact 600 pages on the subject matter.
Dec 07, 2012 rated it liked it
This was worth reading, but it was not an easy read. Not because the subject matter is gruesome (there's relatively little in the way of gory details), but because of the quirky, see-saw way in which the narrative is structured. Another serious look from the editors could yield a book about 150 pages shorter and much more readable.

That aside, this gives an extraordinary look into what exactly happened in the WWII bombing regime against Germany. An informative historical read.
Michael Samerdyke
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
A punishing book to read, but it was well worth it.

This gives a look at the air war against Germany from a perspective most Enlgish-speaking readers haven't encountered: that of the German civilian. It is a very angry book (but in a controlled way) and while the organization seems a bit unusual, I found it an interesting choice, as if we were getting the experience of an air raid survivor, with things being repressed and then breaking out at a later time.

I think the translation from the German c
May 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book by Joerg Friedrich is now available in English. You will have to read it in small doses, as it shows the horrible toll on civilian life that the air raids over Germany during World War II caused. The author does not apologize for the crimes of the Third Reich; rather, he shows the often forgotten suffering of the civilian population, and how men such as "Bomber" Harris planned revenge raids on cities like Dresden. A controversial and interesting look at World War II from the other side ...more
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This intriguing work takes the reader into the science and engineering of fire's destructive force with the German bombing campaign during WWII. Long and widely known are the human cost and cultural damage of the fires of Germany, but this book details the how and process of that destruction. Very interesting work fairly recently translated from German.
Diego González
La historia la escriben los vencedores, es un tópico pero no por eso deja de ser una verdad. En El Incendio, se cuenta la guerra de bombardeos que los aliados (fundamentalmente EE.UU. y el Reino Unido) libraron contra la Alemania de Hitler entre 1940 y 1945, pero desde el punto de vista de los civiles alemanes que la sufrieron. Es una historia triste, épica y desgarradora, que merece figurar en los anales más negros de la historia. En cada página del libro flota la misma pregunta, una y otra vez ...more
Dec 02, 2009 rated it liked it
A minutely-detailed survey of the Allied bombing of Germany. Some passages are gripping, others are impossibly boring and repetitive (see the 'Land' chapter). The overall intention is the reconstruct the catastrophe of civilian bombing, from strategic draft boards in England in 1940 to the psyche of the ordinary citizen in small German towns in 1945. Not surprisingly, Friedrich is deliberately inflammatory, blending vocabulary culled from Holocaust scholarship with first-person recollection of t ...more
Dec 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Harsh and unremitting, a must if have read Slaughterhouse 5 and sympathize with Vonnegut's argument that, well, allied bombing of German cities was at best disingenuous, and at worst, simply another category of evil during that time.
Robert  Finlay
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very detailed account, from many perspectives, of Allied fire-bombing of Germany. A fascinating, eloquent narrative. Defeating Hitler obviously was a good thing, but 70,000 children died in the bombings: so was that a war atrocity? and was it justified?
Edward Sullivan
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Exhaustive and vivid.
Michael Greening
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excruciatingly detailed horror story of the Allied bombing of Germany in the Second World War. Reading that is hard to stomach, but chock full of insight
Matti Karjalainen
Jörg Friedrichin "Suuri palo: liittoutuneiden pommitukset Saksassa 1940-1945" (Ajatus, 2005) käsittelee Englannin ja Yhdysvaltain ilma-armeijoiden suorittamia pommituksia toisen maailmansodan aikana. Ilmestyessään kirja herätti ristiriitaisia tunteita, sillä arvokkaasta aiheestaan huolimatta saksalaisen siviiliväestön kärsimykset ovat olleet pitkään jonkinlainen tabu historiankirjoituksessa.

Friedrich kuvaa kirjassaan käsittämättömiin suhteisiin kasvaneita pommituksia, jotka tappoivat kymmeniä tu
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-war, classic
Although I think this was an important and likely unique contribution to the history of the war, it ultimately undermines itself. It's academically sloppy like Hitler's Willing Executioners in its approach to social history, which is perhaps the most unfortunate lapse. So much social history from the German side of the war is forever lost because historians did not do the work. For all its lamentation of the suffering of Germans, it's far more concerned with the loss of art, culture and architec ...more
May 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Friedrich has hit upon a bold and necessary theme: reminding us that war's edge cuts both ways. Every single account of aerial raids I have read up to now has been concerned with the German blitz of London. Here, the civilian population of Germany is given its own elegy, long overdue and sorely needed. The concept is new and very important. As a history, this book is rather less impressive. The record is distorted by sporadic ruminations on the philosophical nature of bomb warfare as such, and w ...more
Anne Mcnamara
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book examine the past and how war can turn good man into monster, even when we want to see them as hero, the truth is much darker and deeper it a place where 170,000 German children have to pay the price for an tyrannous government without ever knowing the word Nazi even means. It a place that fueled the passion for Germans to pay the ultimate price in human life,The pivotal lesson we all can take from this book is that when men fight for something they belief is to be right and without an ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
It made me realise that talking about the damage of invading countries was considered to be taboo for long time. Reading through this book, I thought war itself is evil because it causes huge loss for all humankind.
Luis Cardenas
la Segunda Guerra siempre será un tema de estudió y lectura apasionante. Y más desde el punto de vista alemán, siempre se habla del bombardeo en Londres en el 40 y sobre las V1 y los V2 pero nunca sobre la destrucción sistemática que sufrieron los civiles alemanes.
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german
Inadvertent companion volume to Fire and Fury, the WWII bombing of Germany as written in German by a German historian, relying primarily on German-collected oral histories.
Paco Crespo
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A pesar de la lamentable traducción al español (Ed. Taurus), un libro realmente sensacional.
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Feb 10, 2008
Robyn Herman
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Jörg Friedrich is a German author and historian. Friedrich is best known for his publication Der Brand (2002), in which he portrays the Allied bombing of civilian targets during World War II as systematic and in many ways pointless mass murder. An English translation, The Fire, was published in 2006 by Columbia University Press and met with widespread critical approval. For example, the New York T ...more
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