World News

‘Fire and Fury’ from Canada: It’s Not About Trump. Or Michael Wolff.

Posted January 9, 2018 4:31 p.m. EST

OTTAWA, Ontario — Like many book buyers, Randall Hansen, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, has been unable to find a copy of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” Michael Wolff’s instant best-seller.

His own book, though, a scholarly study about the Allies’ bombing of Germany during World War II, is readily available. It has even found a second life on three Amazon best-seller lists and is back-ordered on the site. Maybe that’s because its title is “Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945.”

“I don’t know how much of this is a mistake and how much of this is from new interest created by free advertising,” Hansen said. “There might be some returns.”

The professor’s book, published 10 years ago, sold relatively well and received a nomination for one of Canada’s top book awards. It is highly critical of the British-led nighttime firebombing of German cities, finding it both morally dubious and of little strategic value. But precision daylight bombing by the United States late in the war, Hansen said, did undermine Germany’s military.

Wolff’s book is also highly critical in its own way, suggesting that President Donald Trump is unfit for office. It was rushed into release after Trump threatened to block its publication through legal action.

It will take some time to determine how many copies of the Canadian “Fire and Fury” have been sold since last week. But Hansen said he found it appropriate and satisfying that his book about the cost and futility of war has gained attention, accidentally or otherwise, because of the current administration in Washington.

Hansen, who is the interim director of the Munk School of Global Affairs, said that because Trump “is threatening war constantly,” it will be useful to have “a few people read about the horror of war.”

Wolff’s title echoes a threat Trump made in a U.N. General Assembly speech last August in which he vowed that North Korea would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it endangered the United States.

The professor explained how he came up with his title.

“I struggled with different titles to get across two ideas,” he said. The “Fire” part came from the incendiary bombs used by the Royal Air Force. “Fury” refers to Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, who led Britain’s Bomber Command. Known as “Bomber,” Harris was, in Hansen’s view, obsessed with saturation bombing of German cities.

But given the attention surrounding Wolff’s book, the professor added, “it could have been called ‘The Sun Rises Tomorrow’ and have been a best-seller.”

Once he finds Wolff’s book, Hansen said, he intends to read it.