Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II

7 May

Book Review

Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II by Michael Bess is an outstanding analysis of the many moral questions that exist today about the choices made by the allied leadership during World War II. While the topic largely centers around the decisions of the allied nations, it is compared against the backdrop of all the greater nations involved in the conflicts of that time.

Bess creates a background for each of the questions that is asked in the book, by using examples of history leading up to the war, a clearly identified moral compass, and an understanding and acceptance of the circumstances that defined the era.

Of the many moral questions of wartime decisions, the ones that loom largest in Choices Under Fire, are racism, the area bombing of city centers, the fire bombing of cities in both Germany and Japan, the atomic bombing or Japan, and the presence of morality in the postwar era.

Bess does a superb job in assigning blame where it is due in each circumstance. Once the questions have been asked, and the cases made, both allied and axis sides, are equally criticized for their decisions. Despite the blame being assigned, Bess does it in such a way, that the reader does not feel biased or angered towards the aggressors, but rather that with the knowledge that Bess has presented, they simply understand the issues at a logical level.

Choices Under Fire, is an excellent history of World War II and provides something that most of books on the subject distinctly lack in this way, that being an easy to read and understand responsible analysis of the credit or blame of the nations at war.


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