Friday, July 11, 2008

Inferno by Keith Lowe *****

Yes, another 5 star book. Honestly, I've just been on a lucky streak lately! This is one of Dog's books, I had run out of reading material one night & he said he was going to pick some books out for me. This is the one I chose.

It's about the almost total destruction of the city of Hamburg during the course of 1 week in late July/early August 1943. Four night bombing raids by RAF bombers & two by American day bombers pretty much finished off the city. You may have heard of the fire storm the RAF started on their second raid of July 27--it was of almost unspeakable power & horror. The descriptions of what some of the people of Hamburg went through & saw are chilling. I will always remember a particular scene: fleeing their bomb shelter because they realized they would be roasted alive or die of smoke inhalation if they stayed, a young family reached the street & saw the road burning, the trees burning, & horses from a local business running by, burning. Everything was on fire. Everything. Even bricks were incinerated in the high heat, & winds that could pick you up & carry you into the fire were created by the hideously high heat & lack of humidity.

I don't generally like non-fiction, I find it dry & boring. This was nothing of the sort, & it isn't because of the events that the author was describing--it was because of his ability as an author. This was Keith Lowe's first non-fiction book after writing two successful novels, & his talent is a wonderful thing to behold. He somehow is able to describe both sides of this conflict, interviewing survivors of the bombing & the men who did the bombing, with a knack for getting you to see how each person was part of an inevitable cog in history. You can blame each side for what happened, but you're left just feeling the burden of being human. Why are we this way? I don't know, & Keith Lowe doesn't either, but I'm left with the words NEVER AGAIN stamped in my mind.

Are we doing enough in the here & now to keep this from happening again? Or is it already happening as we speak?

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