Britain and the USA carried out a massive bombing offensive against the cities of Germany and Japan in the course of the Second World War, which ended with the destruction of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was the bombing of civilian targets justified by the necessities of war? Or was it, in fact, a crime against humanity? How should we, the descendants of the Allies who won the victory in that war, reply to the moral challenge of the descendants of those whose cities were targeted? A.C. Grayling looks at the stands people took, both for and against, and crucially asks what are the lessons that we can learn for today about how people should behave in a world of tension and moral confusion, of terrorism and fragile democracies. Among the Dead Cities is both a lucid and revealing work of modern history and an investigation of conscience into one of the last remaining controversies of that time.
'Its obvious contemporary relevance gives this book a timeliness to add to the timeless nature of the debate to which it contributes ... Books like this should be compulsory reading for all senior politicians' Guardian 'Extraordinary ... deserves to be read, not only by those interested in the history of the Second World War, but also by those who continue to be interested in the ethical questions of warfare, in a world where British governments and their allies still try to justify the bombing of civilian targets' Daily Telegraph 'Grayling recognises all too well that area bombing must be put firmly in the context of the wider war and the blurring (indeed the obliteration) of moral lines it caused ... A challenging, thought-provoking book that forces us to confront some uncomfortable home truths' Glasgow Herald 'A provocative and readable study ... that is the purpose of his book, to provoke our leaders, and those on whose behalf they purport to act, to ask how to wage a war by methods short of barbarism' John Charmley, Guardian
A. C. Grayling is Master of the New College of the Humanities, UK. He has written and edited numerous works of philosophy and is the author of biographies of Descartes and William Hazlitt. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society. He has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week and CNN news. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum at Davos, and advises on many committees ranging from Drug Testing at Work to human rights groups.