This well-documented story of the greatest one-night massacre in human history is a must-read for anyone interested in modern history, WW2, warfare in general, and human failure. Irving's book describes in detail the air war in Europe during WW2, which culminated in the attack of Allied planes on Dresden on February 13 and 14, 1945. The book is full of technical and human details and well illustrated. Convincing evidence is presented that this attack targeted the civilian population and left strategic targets including the bridges over the river Elbe intact. It has been impossible to estimate the death toll accurately (35,000 - 135,000) because of the large number of Eastern European refugees fleeing the advancing Red Army only 100 miles of Dresden. Non-citizens included American and British prisoners of war in or near Dresden, and one of them, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote a famous novel, Slaughterhose Five, about it. Irving's book analyzes the technical and human background of the attack in depth and with great precision. He also expresses his opinion clearly that the destruction of this beautiful historic city at a time when Germany's military defeat was clear should never have happenend.
The scholarship for this book is exemplary. It was exhaustively researched and is thoroughly referenced. (There are hundreds of footnotes citing primary sources, and lengthy appendices.) Irving interviewed hundreds of first-hand witnesses from all relevant nations. He nonetheless manages to avoid sensationalizing the events. Even more importantly, "The Destruction of Dresden" attempts to acquaint a largely ignorant world (outside of Germany) with one of the most horrific military atrocities of World War Two. That it happened to have been committed by the "righteous" Allies, rather than "the usual culprits" disturbs many people to no end.