Inferno: the firebombing of Japan, March 9-August 15, 1945
Targeting Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe, as well as smaller Japanese cities, Major General Curtis LeMay (1906-1990) and his squadrons of B-29 bombers - flying low and carrying nothing but incendiary explosives - unleashed an almost nightly bombing campaign througout the spring and summer of 1945 that reduced the residential and commercial centers of the nation to rubble and charcoal. Fueled by high winds and napalm, these bombs proved frighteningly effective against the island's traditional wood and paper houses, killing 300,000 men, women, and children, and wounding 500,000 more.
During the first raid on Tokyo on March 9, 1945, the resulting firestorm burned nearly sixteen square miles of the city and sent its terrified residents running through the streets in search of shelter. The survivors overcame flames, panicked crowds, falling debris, and choking smoke. Many fled to the city's rivers, where they drowned. With penicillin in short supply, disease ran rampant. In all, 100,000 Japanese civilians perished.
Based on vivid interviews with dozens of survivors, Inferno is an unflinching, intimate account of those horrific events as they unfolded in the midnight hours of a desperate world war. It is also an indictment of the decisions and decision-makers who refocused strategy in the Pacific Theater from military targets to innocent civilians.
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