A Necessary Evil?

The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940–1945
Jörg Friedrich
translated by Allison Brown
Columbia University Press, $34.95, 532 pp.

When the Greek captain Menelaus was tempted to spare the life of an incapacitated opponent on the killing field outside the walls of Troy, his brother Agamemnon rebuked him: “Once in our hands not one should squirm away / from death’s hard fall! No fugitive, not even / the manchild carried in a woman’s belly! / Let them all without distinction perish, / every last man of Ilion, / without a tear, without a trace!” And in the end, as Homer’s listeners knew, that is...

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About the Author

James J. Sheehan, professor emeritus of history at Stanford University, is the author of Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?: The Transformation of Modern Europe, among other books.