Richard Overy

Trial by Firestorm

Bombing the City: Civilian Accounts of the Air War in Britain and Japan, 1939–1945

By

Cambridge University Press 251pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

This is a curious book. The central argument is simply that being bombed in the Second World War was a devastating and atrocious experience, whether you were British, Japanese or indeed part of any of the many other populations who found themselves underneath an air raid. Certainly no one would contest this conclusion. Why, then, write a whole book pointing this out?

The answer given by Aaron Moore lies in the nature of his sources. His purpose is to give ordinary people the opportunity to describe in their own words the nature of the bombing as they experienced it. Moore’s first book, Writing the War, drew very successfully on the diaries kept by Japanese soldiers as they made their bloody way across China during the long Sino-Japanese conflict. Here he uses the diaries kept by Japanese and British civilians who found themselves under the bombs.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,