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The bombing war 1939-1945: new perspectives

Richard Overy, Professor of History, University of Exeter

Date/Time: 13th March 2014

The Bombing war in Europe has usually been seen as a number of separate histories, focused on the Blitz on Britain and the Anglo-American bombing of Germany. In this lecture Richard Overy explores the bombing war as a European phenomenon, growing out of the changed perception of war as ‘total war’ against the civilian community as well as the armed forces and involving almost all of Europe.

He examines the myths that still surround the major campaigns and the popular reaction to them and explores the question of why European societies in almost all cases did not collapse under the impact of bombing despite all the pre-war fears of social breakdown. He argues that the important question is not whether the bombing was moral or not, but why it was that the ethical restraints were so easily removed once the war had begun.

Speaker biography

Richard Overy is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is the author of more than 25 books on air power, World War II and the European dictatorships, including:

  • The Dictators (2004)
  • Russia’s War (1998)
  • The Morbid Age (2009)
  • The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945 (2013)

He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. His book on the dictators won the Wolfson Prize for History in 2004.