Monday, 21 November 2011

Book Review - Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II

Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II
Michael Bess, Vintage Books USA, 2008, 395 pages

WWII seems so easy, two truly evil regimes, Nazi and Japanese, against the good guys. Evil vs Good. But it wasn’t that easy, even the good side did some things that would today be considered high ranking war crimes. The question is why?
This book is very good at discussing the moral ambiguities of WWII. The author tries to answer some difficult questions, for example if the bombing of German and Japanese population centres were justified. How about the alliance between UK/US and Stalin’s Soviet Union, and the Nuremburg Trials - were they fair?
Race - Übermenchen vs interned Americans with Japanese ancestry. Japanese expansion in Asia vs American and European colonies. Why did the population of Plateau Vivarais-Lignon risk their own lives to save thousands of Jews, when others collaborated. Is it OK to become a monster when you fight monsters?
I read this book with fascination, as it really tried to analyse all the cases, and did a very good job at that. It put forth questions I haven’t even considered, and gave very thoughtful and sometimes painful explanations.
The subject of morality in war I feel is very interesting and important, both for historical reasons and for contemporary.
This is without doubt one of the best and most important books I have read in the last couple of years.

“Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II” get a 5 out of 5 rating. Read it!
(For an explanation on my rating system see the bottom of the page)

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