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  #1  
Old 18th September 2010, 02:27
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HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

The WW I aviation author Peter Kilduff has written a new biography of the career of Hermann Göring during the First World War. Here is a description from Amazon:

Over the last 70 years, in countless books and essays, Hermann Goring has been defined by his crimes and excess during the Third Reich and the Second World War. But his activities as a young career military officer in World War I have invariably been glossed over - until now. 'Hermann Goring - Fighter Ace' is the first in-depth look at Goring's role as a military flyer and air combat leader from 1914 through the end of The Great War, and how those experiences shaped the personality that came to the world's attention in 1939.
At the outset of the First World War, Goring was eager to prove his value to his fatherland in initial skirmishes with French troops. When struck by severe rheumatoid arthritis in September 1914, the twenty-one-year-old officer's burning ambition and ego could not tolerate being sidelined and the following month he forced himself out of a sick bed to begin a new career as an aviation observer. Goring went on to become a fighter pilot with twenty-two downed enemy aircraft to his credit, the last wartime commander of the Red Baron's own fighter wing, Jagdgeschwader Richthofen, and recipient of a row of prestigious medals including Prussia's highest bravery award, the Pour le Me'rite.
Peter Kilduff has produced a landmark volume based on extensive research into Goring's early military records and thousands of German and Allied documents to put the neophyte airman's life and events into perspective. Among other resources, Kilduff drew on Goring's own combat reports and related writings.
Illustrated with over eighty drawings and photographs, including many from Goring's private collection and never before published, Herman Goring - Fighter Ace is a tour de force of historical material covering the early combat career of one of the Twentieth Century's most infamous military figures. Peter Kilduff is an acclaimed American historian and the author of thirteen aviation books covering biplanes to jets, including 2009's Black Fokker Leader which was also published by Grub Street.


P.S. The mis-spelling of "Herman" is Amazon's.
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  #2  
Old 18th September 2010, 02:46
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

Looks to be an interesting reading!
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  #3  
Old 18th September 2010, 03:53
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

Gentlemen,

I have this book and can highly recommend it. It covers every aspect of Goring's time during WW1. The book discusses his personality at length and shows a complex individual. He was an egotist, self serving and stubborn, but without question, also a brave and aggressive pilot. One element of the book I liked, was that the claims of his staffel mates are listed along with his in each unit he flew with. It's interesting to see his claims within the context of his unit.
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Old 18th September 2010, 08:02
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

Sound interesting, I hope that there is explanation why Hermann Göring was not invited on unit renunions after the war. By the way:

Quote:
Goring's private collection
I did not know that this exist...

Cheers
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Old 18th September 2010, 10:46
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

I've read other books by the author Peter Kilduff, on the Richthofen Geschwader, Richthofen himself and the Luftstreitkräfte in the Great War. I liked those, so this is definitely of interest.
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Old 18th September 2010, 13:09
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

This was a subject that I've been waiting for, thanks.

Just ordered it!
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Old 19th September 2010, 22:58
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

Anything by Mr. Kilduff will be first-rate. He's well-known in WW-I circles as a top-notch researcher and author.
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Old 28th September 2010, 23:46
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

OK, small update.
Received the book yesterday.

Current Grub Street house style.

c. 160 pages, including claims list.

A couple of b&w profiles, three color profiles on back of dust jacket.

I've now reached p.52

The book is interesting, but not brilliant. One detractor imho, it constantly tries to fit Goerings actions into a psychological profile, and that profile was made during his captivity.

By presenting Goerings actions in the context of this profile - a sort of 20-20 hindsight need to label everything - the biography somehow loses strength.

Kilduff could have just written an objective "pilots" biography of Goerings youth up to his time as a pilot, and given us the choice of a final verdict within the context of his later life.

As such the book reminds me of the novel Blue Max, as it somehow wants to explain how the young man became the later Goering, it has to fit the profile.

Again this is a shame, as without the straightjacket of a psychological profile the reader might not translate many of these actions into this later context. Going a step further if we were to remove the context and transfer the WW1 actions to a nameless pilot we'd possible draw many different conclusions.

So unfortunately the WW1 biography is suffering from the need to place the character of Goering into the context of his Third Reich personality. I think that Kilduff missed an opportunity to break free from that context and concentrate on the context of WW1.

With 2/3 of the book still to go I do think it is a worthwhile read, whatever criticism I might have.

Ruy
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Old 2nd October 2010, 10:57
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

Reached the final chapters and that hasn't changed my view on the book.

Basically the word is disappointing, although not a total loss.

Kilduff hasn't written a WW1 biography on Goering, but an "investigation" of his youth and WW1 career.
Everything is suspect, even bravery is pathological.

However Kilduff shows very little proof for many of his claims, making it all very circumstantial at best, often even petty.

The urge for recognition, a race for the Pour le Merite, frequently mentioned, no strong evidence.

The use of connection to achieve goals, again frequently mentioned, but with little or no proof when it comes to a number of "crucial" moments, like the award of the Pour le Merite, or getting command of JG I.

In relation to Goering's taking over command of JG I there is a nice example how Kilduff is exhorting himself to fit the narrow view he's presenting, and based on flawed logic / knowledge at that!

p. 140

Quote:
"The Geschwader breaths easier again, [Goering] is the man who meets all the qualifications that are implicitly placed by his superiors and subordinates on the Kommandeur of the first and most famous Jagdgeschwader in the army ...The new Kommandeur was "right" [for the job] ..."

That observation is difficult to accept at face value, however, as Bodenschatz published in 1935, when he was a Luftwaffe Oberst, serving as 1st Adjudant on Goering's staff.

A more believable contemporaneous view of JG I's new leader appeared in Bodenschatz's contribution to a 1923 anthology, in which he wrote simply:

"Oberleutnant Goering, a successful Staffelfuhrer proven on all fronts, was appointend Geschwader-Kommandeur".

And even that short statement was exaggerated, as Goering had only served on the Western Front and not "all fronts" (i.e. not on the Eastern Front or in Italy or Palestine) as Bodenschatz hinted.
In fact Bodenschatz is saying the same, but Kilduff doesn't (want to) understand the meaning of "on all fronts" and translates this (if he even knows German) literally.

"Proven on all fronts" means proven on all counts, not on all military fronts. So in 1923 Bodenschatz wrote that Goering was "the right man" for the job, as he did in 1935 although more elaborate (in light of the new Luftwaffe understandable).

A simple example that illustrates the way Peter Kilduff is willing his (lack of) evidence to the set story piece he wants to present.

Perhaps Peter let himself be carried away too much by Jack Hunter's novel and 1946 psychological profiles and too little by contemporary evidence and witnesses.

A good example is his early award of the Pour le Merite, at "only" 18 confirmed claims. Kilduff lays focus on his low number of kills, but seems to forget about his great success as a reconnaissance pilot. Although he quotes the citation, he fails to include it in his analysis (which doesn't fit Kilduff's aim).

p. 135

Quote:
The recommendation was approved by the Kogenluft himself, General Leutnant Ernst von Hoeppner, who hailed Goering as an"

"... outstanding flying officer, who, by his reconnaissance and long-range flights during the ...war, delivered exemplary support materials [needed] for crucial decisions by his then commanders-in-chief.[After] recovering from a serious wound, he again distinguished himself with personal daring in the latest great offensives of the 17th an 4th Armies as the leader of a Jagdstaffel, which, under his prudent leadership, attained forty-nine aerial victories. He alone conquered eighteen enemies in aerial combats.
I find it harder to believe that Goering's influence ran all the way up to Von Hoeppner, than to take at face value that his achievement as an observer and reconnaissance pilot was also honored by the award of the Pour le Merite. That's what the evidence supports.

As for interbellum writing by Goering or endorsed by him.

Never let the truth stand in the way of a good yarn. It isn't pathological to embellish events, there are many (auto) biographies on both sides of the war that don't stand up to a thorough investigation. OTOH, there are plenty events that cannot be traced back to the archives either.

The subject deserves some leeway, even if he happens to be future Nazi leader Hermann Goering.

The final pages won't change my views on this work.

7/10
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Old 2nd October 2010, 17:18
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Re: HERMAN GÖRING FIGHTER ACE

Ruy,
For an article with just facts, you might check my "The Combat Records of Hermann Göring" published in "Over the Front" Vol 10 number 3. "Over the Front" is now publishing Volume 25; so 15 years ago.

Enjoy!

Frank.
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