River of Fire: The Clydebank Blitz

Ewen Cameron on a traumatic Second World War raid

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Reviewed by: Ewen Cameron
Author: John MacLeod
Publisher: Birlinn
Price (RRP): £9.99

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This is a valuable account of the traumas suffered by Clydebank as it was bombed by the Luftwaffe on 13 and 14 March 1941. The principal feature of the book is the way in which MacLeod gives prominence to the voices of those who witnessed the bombing, although he does not engage critically with these accounts.

The central chapters provide a detailed and moving account of the nights in question. MacLeod then deals with the disorganised attempts by local and national authorities to cope with the scale of the destruction before discussing the growing perception that the reconstruction of the town was neglected in the postwar period.

The raid is set in the context of the town’s history but this is done at excessive length. Unfortunately, the book’s effectiveness is marred by MacLeod’s verbosity and a lack of sufficient editing.

Ewen Cameron, professor of history at the University of Edinburgh
 

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Where History Happened: The Blitz