Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945

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9780060006761: Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945

The bombing began shortly after 10:00 P.M. on February 13, 1945. In the fifteen hours that followed, 1,100 American and British heavy bombers dropped more than 4,500 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices, leaving the ancient city of Dresden -- "the Florence of the Elbe" -- in flaming ruins and claiming the lives of thousands of its citizens. Twelve weeks later the German surrender was in hand, signaling the end of World War II.

Yet today the bombing of Dresden is embedded in our collective consciousness not as the toppling blow to Nazi Germany but as one of history's cruelest wartime atrocities, a vicious and militarily unjustifiable act of vengeful retribution against a peaceful, beautiful, defenseless city somehow removed from the war-making machinery that had otherwise consumed all of Germany.

What really happened at Dresden -- both the facts of the events themselves and the reasons behind the remarkable legacy of propaganda that has left us in the dark about those events for nearly sixty years -- is the subject of Frederick Taylor's ground breaking study. After careful research into British, American, and German archives (including recently discovered documents, now available after decades of communist censorship) and interviews with both bombers and survivors, Taylor -- a bilingual scholar, translator, and writer -- has created the most complete portrait ever assembled of the city, its people, and those involved in its fate. Many of his findings require a revelatory shift in how we understand these events. For instance, he demonstrates that

  • the numbers of dead -- frequently cited in excess of 100,000 -- were greatly exaggerated, for propaganda purposes, by Josef Goebbels (Taylor estimates the actual death toll at between 25,000 and 40,000)
  • charges that Allied pilots overhead shot down German civilians as they fled toward safety were patently false
  • contrary to popular belief, Dresden was a city of considerable military importance, both as a transportation hub and a major producer of armaments and military provisions.

Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 is the first truly informed and fair-minded history of the bombing that lives in infamy. Frederick Taylor's book, a responsible and long-overdue corrective to a sixty-year-long legacy of misinformation masquerading as fact, will be remembered for generations both as a work of enduring scholarship and as a moving, compassionate narrative of a human tragedy of historic significance.

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About the Author:

Frederick Taylor studied history and modern languages at Oxford University and Sussex University. A Volkswagen Studentship award enabled him to research and travel widely in both parts of divided Germany at the height of the Cold War. Taylor is the author of Dresden and has edited and translated a number of works from German, including The Goebbels Diaries, 1939-1941. He is married with three children and lives in Cornwall, England.

Review:

“Deeply affecting ... a bracing rebuke to the myths and propaganda that have painted over the memory of this tragedy.” (People)

“The enigmatic past and the patient muse of history are brilliantly served ... by this blockbuster of a book.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Taylor carefully debunks .... the ‘pervasive postwar myth’ ... What emerges is a picture markedly different from conventional accounts.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Fascinating....a fine, revealing work of revisionist history. He has also given us a deeply haunting human drama.” (Houston Chronicle)

“Compelling ... [Taylor] puts the assault in its proper context to reveal the inherent moral tangle of total war.” (Atlantic Monthly)

“A riveting narrative account.” (Salon.com)

“Compelling ... Mr. Taylor makes a persuasive case that Dresden was not an innocent bystander in the tragedy that was WWII.” (Washington Times)

“A strong and provocative work of World War II scholarship.” (Library Journal)

“Accomplished.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A major contribution to the story of Dresden.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“Genius...an absolutely magnificent work both of scholarship and of narration.” (The Literary Review (London))

“[An] authoritative and moving account .... Impeccably documented.” (The Independent (London))

“In narrative power and persuasion, [Taylor] has paralleled in DRESDEN what Antony Beevor achieved in STALINGRAD.” (Nicholas Fearn, The Independent on Sunday (London))

“Well-researched, objective and compassionate...Frederick Taylor convincingly sets the record straight.” (Anthony Looch, Daily Post (Liverpool))

“Groundbreaking ... [shines] new light on that fateful day and the resulting myths.” (Calgary Sun)

“I thought I knew what happened at Dresden on that fiery day in 1945 -- and then I read this book.” (James Bradley)

“Anyone who thinks that during World War Two Dresden manufactured just chinaware must read this penetrating book.” (Stanley P. Hirschson, author of General Patton: A Soldier's Life)

“A provocative re-examination of the bombing of Dresden ... elgantly written and deeply moving.” (Peter Duffy, author of The Bielski Brothers)

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