Among the Dead Cities by A C Grayling - review by Richard Overy

Richard Overy

The Case for the Prosecution

Among the Dead Cities


Bloomsbury 361pp £20 order from our bookshop

This is unusual territory for an academic philosopher, but one that deserves exploration. Anthony Grayling has set out to answer squarely the awkward question, often posed but seldom clearly confronted, about whether the area bombing of German and Japanese cities in the Second World War was immoral or not (or, to use the conceptually ambiguous term employed here, a ‘moral crime’).

This is indeed an important question, not least because there are ominous noises offstage at present about the possibility or necessity of using nuclear weapons under certain circumstances in the Middle East. The answer, or ‘judgement’ as Grayling rather grandly calls it, is unambiguous: area bombing was a crime then,

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