One aspect of World War II which we in the victorious countries have tended to soft-pedal is the role of ""strategic"" bombing; indeed, if we do ever mention it, our thoughts are likely to be of the London blitz. But England, as compared to her foe, was scarcely touched by this barbaric innovation. In fact, says the author, it was not Germany but the Allies who insisted upon unrestricted bombing behind the military zone; and the Casablanca directive, making all of Germany a ""legitimate"" target area, only supported what the R.A.F. had long been doing. Hans Rumpf reopens this old wound, as he says, ""neither in anger nor indignation"", but rather to consider seriously whether the wholesale devastation of cities, together with the slaughter of some 600,000 civilians and the consequent homelessness of 13 million others, really contributed to the Allied victory. His conclusion is that it did not materially damage Germany's industrial output, and far from shortening the war, probably lengthened it. As the Inspector General of Fire Prevention, Herr Rumpf was in a position to know whereof he speaks, if anyone was. His carefully argued book is more than an important consideration of an unpleasant chapter of history, however; his main objective is to make us think of the future and see to it that ""the immunity of the defenseless, non-combatant civilian population"" is not disregarded again.