dead cities


In some contexts, the good, decent humanist approach seems more callous than sheer bloody-mindedness. Here’s how A.C. Grayling, a professor of philosophy at the University of London and nothing if not a good, decent humanist, defines his objective in Among the Dead Cities: “[D]id the Allies commit a moral crime in their area bombing of German and Japanese cities? This is the question I seek to answer definitively in this book.” He thereby declares himself inadequate to the task. The question of what is permissible to defeat a barbarous enemy is one that resists moral definitiveness; it requires a capacity for ambiguity, uncertainty, irony.

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