Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan.
Walker & Co. 384 pp. $25.95
It seems that the outpouring of books and movies about World War II will never end. This is right and proper because in that conflict the stakes for Western civilization -- indeed for humanity itself -- were never higher. In 1940, Winston Churchill called Hitler's slaughter of Jews in Poland and Russia "a crime without a name." Ten years later aboard Williamsburg, the presidential yacht, he said to Harry Truman, "You, more than any other man, have saved Western Civilization." He was right.
If ever there was a just war, the Western cause in World War II was it. America, Britain, and their allies defeated the two most powerful, barbaric, and expansionist regimes in history. At great sacrifice we, and ironically the Red Army, made the world safe for democracy and freedom -- at least for a while.
But our conduct in that war against Germany and Japan raises moral questions that call for further scrutiny and soul-searching. In his fact-studded book, "Among the Dead Cities," A. C. Grayling, a British philosopher, grapples with a fundamental ethical problem in that titanic struggle. He questions the morality and military necessity of the Allied bombing of cities in Germany and Japan that by war's end claimed 800,000 civilian lives and injured three times that number. Though these deaths by bombing don't begin to match the six million lives lost in the Holocaust, they deserve our attention.
Read the entire article on the Ethics and Public Policy Center website (new window will open).