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Joined: 26 Mar 2009
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    Posted: 14 Oct 2010 at 10:23


Peter Kilduff

Grub Street, 4 Rainham Close, London, SW11 6SS

192 pp 170×250 mm, hardback.

ISBN: 978-1-90650266-9: £20

At last, a book by an aviation historian providing a detailed study of Hermann Göring’s military career with emphasis on his service during WWI as a successful fighter pilot and leader. The first two chapters  cover his childhood, his basic education leading to his enrolment in the prestigious Prussian cadet system, from which he graduated with high honours. His appointment as Fahnrich (the German equivalent of the British ‘ensign’), and then his commission as a Leutnant in the 4th Badisches Infanterie-Regiment ‘Prinz Wilhelm’ Nr 112.

Göring acquitted himself well with this regiment in the early fighting in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains and was awarded an Iron Cross 2nd Class – a relatively rare award at that time. Severe pains in his knees, diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, led to him being hospitalised and realisation that he would be unlikely to continue to lead troops into battle on foot. Fearing that he would be sidelined to a desk job he followed his close friend Bruno Loerzer’s example and successfully transferred to the flying service.

The remaining ten chapters trace his career, initially as an observer and then as a pilot. In so doing they provide an excellent insight into the way that the German Luftstreitkräfte (airforce) developed and grew from its slow start through its days of glory to its ultimate defeat and decline in late 1918.

Göring’s career is well illustrated with numerous photographs, some from his own album. These show personnel, his homes and numerous aeroplanes, (these include machines flown by Göring as well as Allied aircraft against which he fought). In addition to these there are drawings by Greg VanWyngarden and paintings by Ronny Bar of the aircraft he flew. The book’s endpapers provide maps of the areas over which he fought.

In addition to an excellent index there are detailed victory lists, a critical assessment of Göring’s final ‘tally’, the casualties incurred by units that he commanded, a glossary of German ranks and military terms, ‘endnotes’ and a comprehensive bibliography.

I recommend this book for all of the above reasons and because it helps to explain the man he became and who, until now, has been known to us principally as an infamous Nazi leader.                                                                                                                                                                                                           PSL

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