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On That Terrible Night …

Christian Schütze: The wartime bombing of Germany, 21 August 2003

On the Natural History of Destruction 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Anthea Bell.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £16.99, February 2003, 0 241 14126 5
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Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-45 
by Jörg Friedrich.
Propyläen, 592 pp., €25, November 2002, 3 549 07165 5
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Payback 
by Gert Ledig, translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Granta, 200 pp., £8.99, May 2003, 1 86207 565 4
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... never be written because there is no need to intensify the reality. Yet intensification was what Gert Ledig attempted with his novel Payback, which first appeared in 1956. Sebald believes it failed then because it ‘went beyond anything Germans were willing to read about their recent past’. In the story of a one-hour bombing raid, ...

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