In early June 1943, James Eric Swift, a pilot with the 83rd Squadron of the Royal Air Force, boarded his Lancaster bomber for a night raid on Münster and disappeared.
Widespread aerial bombardment was to the Second World War what the trenches were to the First: a shocking and new form of warfare, wretched and unexpected, and carried out at a terrible scale of loss. Just as the trenches produced the most remarkable poetry of the First World War, so too did the bombing campaigns foster a haunting set of poems during the Second.
In researching the life of his grandfather, Daniel Swift became engrossed with the connections between air war and poetry. Ostensibly a narrative of the author’s search for his lost grandfather through military and civilian archives and in interviews conducted in the Netherlands, Germany, and England, Bomber County is also an examination of the relationship between the bombing campaigns of World War II and poetry, an investigation into the experience of bombing and being bombed, and a powerful reckoning with the morals and literature of a vanished moment.
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But when Swift writes of Mervyn Peake's The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb that there is "a music to this damage: a balance to the loss of bombing", it is clear that he hasn't attended closely enough to the aesthetic legacy of the bombs, or to the ethical conflict between the physical destruction of ci...Aug 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Bomber County - the Lost Airm...