The first of W.G. Sebald's non-fiction books to be translated into English, "On the Natural History of Destruction" explores German writers' strange silence about a moment of mass destruction. In the last years of World War II, a million tons of bombs were dropped by the Allies on one hundred and thirty-one German towns and cities. Six hundred ...Read MoreThe first of W.G. Sebald's non-fiction books to be translated into English, "On the Natural History of Destruction" explores German writers' strange silence about a moment of mass destruction. In the last years of World War II, a million tons of bombs were dropped by the Allies on one hundred and thirty-one German towns and cities. Six hundred thousand civilians died, and three and a half million homes were destroyed. When it has cast such a very dark shadow over his life and work, Sebald asks, how have so many writers allowed themselves to write it out of their experience and avoid articulating the horror? W.G. Sebald's "On the Natural History of Destruction" sparked a wide-ranging debate in the German press. "Sebald makes exquisite art out of vile history". (Boyd Tonkin, "Independent"). "One of the most important writers of our time". (A.S. Byatt, "New Statesman"). "Demands to be read for its grand emotional power...it absorbs and horrifies and illuminates". ("Scotsman"). "Brilliant and disturbing". (Antony Beevor, "The Times"). W.G. Sebald was born in Germany in 1944 and settled permanently in England in 1970, where he was Professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia until his death in 2001. He is the author of four works of fiction: "The Emigrants", which won the Berlin Literature Prize, the Heinrich Heine Prize, and the Joseph Breitbach Prize; "The Rings of Saturn"; "Vertigo"; and "Austerlitz", which was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Alongside this stand books of poetry "For Years Now", "After Nature", "Unrecounted", and "Across the Land and the Water", and the non-fiction books "On the Natural History of Destruction" and "Campo Santo".Read Less
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If ones wishes to understand the impact of WW II on THE GERMANS--and one should, whatever one's immediate reaction to that concept--then reading this book will present it in the sparest, most economical and almost beautiful prose. As one who came to know the country living there in the 1960's, I found the late Mr. Sebald to be the first person to articulate not so much what terrors the German civilian population had suffered, but how the inescapable recognition of their country's total guilt in launching the war had created a conspiracy of silence, even among the fellow victims. This book deserves that overworked word masterpiece.
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