The Anglo-American air attack on the city of Dresden, in February 1945, has become one of the most famous events of the Second World War. The word “Dresden” is typically one of the first uttered whenever the topic of strategic bombing is raised. And yet, like many other high-profile historical events, the Dresden raid is encrusted with myth and misunderstanding. This essay is an effort to make sense of a complicated and much misunderstood episode in the history of modern warfare—and to make sense of it in the context in which it occurred. The essay draws upon the rich recent literature on Dresden, earlier histories, and a wide array of primary sources in an effort to provide – for teachers, scholars, and general readers – a comprehensive but still concise overview of the air raid that has won such a central place in the history of the Second World War.