Newspaper and journal reviews


‘scrupulously documented… startling and gripping … In describing the Second World War’s worst bombing raid [Lowe] has produced the definitive account of a great tragedy.’
A.C. Grayling, Financial Times



‘Keith Lowe’s admirable book is impeccably researched and engagingly written… He not only handles the inferno superbly, but is also adept at conveying the nervous mood before a raid… There are rather too many military histories of the Second World War, but this one deserves its place on the shelves.’
Dominic Sandbrook,Daily Telegraph



‘Keith Lowe is…sensitive enough to the paradoxes of war never to lapse into easy revisionism. Vivid, suspenseful, Inferno excels not so much as an indictment of bombing, but as a portrait of what such bombing meant “for those unlucky enough to be caught up in it.”’
Edward McGown,Daily Telegraph



‘The story of that hellish summer night is one that Lowe tells well, unblinkingly, exactly as he should.  His book is worth having for this tour de force alone.’
Sunday Times



‘If anyone still believes that war is a glamorous business they should read this brilliantly researched book.  The author has produced many new first-hand accounts which give a human face to a tale of epic destruction.’
Paul Callan,Daily Express



‘an exemplary analysis of the week-long bombing of Hamburg… It is to Lowe’s credit that he uses material from both [sides]… without seeking to be judgemental.’
Jonathan Bouquet,Observer



‘Total war, Lowe shows in this extraordinary study of the bombing of Hamburg in 1943, is experienced in every sense and assails every conceivable emotion’



‘a harrowing study of the Allied bombing of Hamburg in 1943… Lowe has written a potent anti-war book’
Sunday Business Post(Dublin)



‘thoughtful…scrupulous…intelligent… His book, humane, at times impassioned, constitutes a powerful indictment of all policies that dissociate means from ends’
Paul Binding, Independent on Sunday



‘Lowe vividly describes the death, destruction and accompanying horrors, such as blocks of people being sucked into the firestorms… this balanced and evocative analysis makes a provocative contribution to moral studies of the air war over Germany.’
Publishers Weekly (US)



‘the history is scrupulous… Lowe’s account is sensitive to all the paradoxes of the bombing war.’
Richard Overy, Literary Review



Inferno is well researched and well written… As well as the gruesome detail, Lowe ably outlines the wider significance of the Hamburg raids… Inferno relates this wider context well and, making good use of eyewitness accounts, skilfully integrates both into an engaging narrative. It also admirably balances the testimony of the bombers and the bombed, in the process achieving the feat of making the reader sympathetic to both sides simultaneously… this is a balanced, thoughtful treatment, and as such it deserves to be welcomed, not least as its subject matter is evidently still fraught with no little controversy and rancour.’
Roger Moorhouse, History Today



‘This is a first class account of the bombing of Hamburg…well written, meticulously researched… gripping and holds the attention effortlessly – Keith Lowe says he found it a compelling subject on which to write, I found it compelling to read.’
John Wilson, British Army Review



Keith Lowe skilfully mixes comprehensive background information with eyewitness accounts of German civilian survivors on the ground and RAF, USAAF and Luftwaffe aircrews who battled in the skies above them… this meticulously researched book is a powerful reminder of the human face of war’



Reviews by other authors


‘A real triumph: shocking, yet sensitive and supremely fair-minded.  This is a wonderful book about hellish events.’
Richard Holmes,
bestselling author of Tommy, Rebels and Redcoats and The Firing Line



‘A grim and timely reminder of the terrible cost of war, Inferno is a brilliantly told story, by a talented new author, of the destruction of Hamburg by the Allies in 1943.  Keith Lowe writes compassionately of death, agony, courage and survival in the hell of a doomed city.  Highly recommended.’
Carlo D’Este,
author of Decision in Normandy and Eisenhower



‘Not since Len Deighton’s classic, Bomber, has there been a book which recreated with such objectivity both sides of the story, or which painted in such vivid detail the destruction of a city, and the sufferings of those who lived there and those British and American young men who put their lives at risk to destroy it.’
Michael Korda,
New York Times best-selling author of Charmed Lives and Journey to a Revolution



‘Was the destruction of Hamburg an Allied war crime, or the moment when ordinary Germans realised that they couldn't win the struggle except at prohibitive cost? Or was it perhaps both? Keith Lowe's admirably objective book allows you to make your own judgement on the only criterion that counts: what Total War really meant at the time.’
Andrew Roberts,

bestselling author of The Storm of War



‘This is a brilliant book with a skilful mix of eyewitness accounts and deeply researched narrative.  The appalling stories of German civilians caught in the Hamburg firestorm are balanced with the equally mind numbing experiences of the RAF, USAAF and Luftwaffe aircrews who battled in the skies over Europe by day and night.’
Major General Julian Thompson,
author of No Picnic



‘Altogether a terrific book and work of research’
Capt. Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown,
author of Wings on My Sleeve



Internet reviews

‘Inferno does a lot more than give a military account of Operation Gomorrah, though it does that with a wonderful clarity.  It also does a lot more than provide us with oral testimonies, though it does that thoughtfully and heartbreakingly. What Keith Lowe manages to do with this brilliant book is to pick through the complicated ethical issues surrounding the horrific events of that week in July 1943 with an unparalleled sensitivity.  The writing is crisp, clean and clear and I didn’t need to turn back and check my facts even once while reading.  If Inferno had only this level of understanding to recommend it to the reader, it would probably be enough. But it also has compassion and honesty and an ability to eschew hindsight in favour of a patient unravelling of why people acted as they did, what  they were prepared to sacrifice for what they were hoping to achieve, and finally, the lessons and understandings we could – should – take for the future… I can’t recommend this book highly enough.’



‘Quite possibly the best book yet written on the Allied bombing campaign against Germany... a masterpiece.’
J. Rickard,








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