Bombing Nazi Germany: the graphic history of the Allied air campaign that defeated Hitler in World War II
Bombing Nazi Germany: the graphic history of the Allied air campaign that defeated Hitler in World War II, Wayne Vansant, 2013, ISBN 9780760345306, 104 pp.
Wayne Vansant has once again used his art to masterfully and evocatively convey emotions and context in the telling of history — this time on the subject of the Allied bombing campaign against Nazi Germany during World War II. Like his previous book — Normandy: a graphic history of D-Day the Allied invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe (reviewed in an earlier post) — Vansant delves into the widely known as well as the significant but often not discussed events. No judgments are made but no punches are pulled either. The fire bombing of cities (beginning with a German air raid) which culminated infamously with the Dresden attacks is addressed — and kudos to Vansant for illuminating post war political considerations.
It is the art of Vansant that tells the tale. It is emotive and it paints a picture, literally, that cannot have been photographed or filmed. This graphic novel is riveting — at times the reader will become prideful and other times the reader will be sorrowful. This is as it should be as this is a story about war fought savagely in the harsh environment of subzero temperatures, often at night.
Vansant illustrates the RAF night bombing campaign from its desperate times through the successful ones just as well as he shows the development of U.S. Army Air Forces daylight bombing (and how it was saved from a premature end). He also tells the story of the seesaw battle for nocturnal supremacy and how the Luftwaffe so very nearly prevailed. These subjects have often been glossed over but were significant so Vansant has covered the spectrum of the story.
Air Marshall Harris is part of the story and Vansant also tells us of his personal aspect regarding the campaign to bomb civilian targets. We learn, too, of a few men awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (one lived to accept it) including the Norton twins when flying a B-26 Marauder.
The Norden bomb sight and Window (chaff) are in the book as is the accidental bombing of Beaumont-le-Roger which turned out to be fortuitous for the Allies. Bombing Nazi Germany is full of stories, both large and small, showing the successes as well as the mistakes of both sides — but also emphasizing the human side of these events. Vansant’s art also places the reader into the story as no text or photograph can.
Vansant’s art places the reader into the story’s context in an emotive way that cannot be done by written word or photograph. Whether on a daylight bombing raid with the bombardier operating the chin turret, as seen above, or aboard a nightfighter while hunting and being hunted in the dark, as seen below, Vansant skillfully tells the history with accuracy and objectivity.
As is the publishing business custom, Zenith Press provided a copy of this book for an objective review.