Coventry: Thursday, 14 November 1940 by Frederick Taylor - review by Keith Lowe

Keith Lowe

Raiding History

Coventry: Thursday, 14 November 1940

By

Bloomsbury 356pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

The problem with iconic events is that myths stick to them like Velcro. Consequently, historians who write about them often have to expend as much energy writing about things that did not happen as about things that did.

Frederick Taylor is used to encountering this problem. In one of his previous books, about the bombing of Dresden, he went to great lengths to show that the raid wasn’t a meaningless attack without military merit, that the Allies didn’t strafe civilians as they fled to safety, and that the death toll was never anywhere near as high as the oft-quoted quarter of a million (the actual figure was almost certainly ten times less, at around 25,000).

In his latest book he has turned his attention to Britain’s equivalent event – the far less catastrophic but no less mythologised bombing of Coventry. Here, similarly, we learn that the city was emphatically not ‘sacrificed’ in order to protect the secret that the British had cracked German codes: British

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