Over the last decade we entered a new exploration phase of solar flare physics, equipped with powerful spacecraft such as Yohkoh, SoHO, and TRACE that pro- vide us detail-rich and high-resolution images of solar flares in soft X-rays, hard X -rays, and extreme-ultraviolet wavelengths. Moreover, the large-area and high- sensitivity detectors on the Compton GRO spacecraft recorded an unprecedented number of high-energy photons from solar flares that surpasses all detected high- energy sources taken together from the rest of the universe, for which CGRO was mainly designed to explore. However, morphological descriptions of these beau- tiful pictures and statistical catalogs of these huge archives of solar data would not convey us much understanding of the underlying physics, if we would not set out to quantify physical parameters from these data and would not subject these measurements to theoretical models. Historically, there has always been an unsatisfactory gap between traditional astronomy that dutifully describes the mor- phology of observations, and the newer approach of astrophysics, which starts with physical concepts from first principles and analyzes astronomical data with the goal to confirm or disprove theoretical models. In this review we attempt to bridge this yawning gap and aim to present the recent developments in solar flare high-energy physics from a physical point of view, structuring the observations and analysis results according to physical processes, such as particle acceleration, propagation, energy loss, kinematics, and radiation signatures.
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