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Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 by Frederick Taylor. HarperCollins (http://www.harpercollins. com/hc), 10 East 53d Street, New York, New York 10022, 2004, 544 pages, $26.95 (hardcover), $15.95 (softcover).
Oftentimes, if a lie is presented repeatedly as the truth, people will accept it as truthful. Such is the case with information surrounding the Allied bombing raids of Dresden, Germany, in February 1945. Just the mention of the city's name in the context of World War II conjures images of a raging firestorm; hundreds of thousands of people killed by asphyxiation or burns; the destruction of a beautiful, peaceful city with no war industry to speak of; and atrocities of Allied fighters strafing terrorized civilian refugees after the bombing raids. Dresden's raging firestorm is true--and the city is indeed beautiful. However, until the publication of Frederick Taylor's book, we knew precious little of the facts surrounding its war industry, its importance to Germany's war effort, and--most of all--the disposition of its population during and immediately after the bombing.
For many centuries, Dresden has held a place of political and military importance. It was the seat of Saxon kings for over 800 years. Drezdzany, as the collection of houses and families was first called, served as the first …