In 1941, almost exactly five months after Hitler had offered to end the war and a few nights before Christmas, a 2,750-pound German bomb fell into a married London couple's wooden kitchen, which was already "flimsy." But the bomb did not explode. Alf Fry and his wife waited four weeks for the bomb to be dug up from the clay, dismantled, and hauled away. But before that, they came to call the bomb "Max."
Max's impotence was both normal and odd. As the war progressed, bombs that large—named, quite literally, blockbusters—were more commonly used by the Royal Air Force in night raids on German military centers along [...]