In February 1945 the Allies obliterated Dresden, the ‘Florence of the Elbe’. Explosive bombs weighing over 1,000lbs fell every seven and a half seconds and an estimated 25,000 people were killed. 75yrs later, historian and bestselling author, Sinclair McKay will with us on Wed 5th Feb to talk about his new book, Dresden: The Fire and the Darkness.

Was the city a legitimate military target or was the bombing a last act of atavistic mass murder in a war already won? From the history of the city, to the attack itself – the first of the flares to the flames reaching almost a mile high, wind so searingly hot that the lungs of those in its path were instantly scorched – through the eerie period of reconstruction, McKay creates a vast canvas and brings it alive with touching human detail.

Along the way we encounter, for example, a Jewish woman who thought the English bombs had been sent from heaven, novelist Kurt Vonnegut who wrote that the smouldering landscape was like walking on the surface of the moon, and 15-year-old Winfried Bielss, who, having spent the evening ushering refugees, wanted to get home to his stamp collection. He was not to know there would be no time.

‘Churchill said that if bombing cities was justified, it was always repugnant. Sinclair McKay has written a shrewd, humane and balanced account of this most controversial target of the Anglo-American strategic bombing campaign, the ferocious consequence of the scourge of Nazism’ –Allan Mallinson

‘Beautifully-crafted, elegiac, compelling… a masterpiece of its genre’ –Damien Lewis


EVENT DATE: February 2020