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Publisher's Summary

With over 1,404 wartime missions, Erich Hartmann claimed a staggering 352 airborne kills, and his career contains all the dramas you would expect. There were the frostbitten fighter sweeps over the Eastern Front, drunken forays to Hitler's Eagle's Nest, a decade of imprisonment in the wretched Soviet POW camps, and further military service during the Cold War that ended with conflict and angst.

Hartmann was adopted by a network of writers and commentators personally invested in his welfare and reputation. These men, mostly Americans, published elaborate, celebratory stories about Hartmann and his elite fraternity of Luftwaffe pilots. Hartmann's legacy became loftier and more secure, and his complicated service in support of Nazism faded away. A simplified, one-dimensional account of his life has gone unchallenged for almost a generation.

Black Tulip locates the ambiguous truth about Hartmann and so much of the German Wehrmacht in general: that many of these men were neither full-blown Nazis nor impeccable knights. They were complex, contradictory, and elusive. This book portrays a complex human rather than the heroic caricature we're used to, and it argues that the tidy, polished hero stories we've inherited about men like Hartmann say as much about those who've crafted them as they do about the heroes themselves.

©2020 Erik Schmidt (P)2021 Tantor

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  • Lorne
  • 02-03-2021

No good

Was waiting for this. The ww2 aviation aspect seems to be only few mins long. This is some sort of awkward thesis on him not being closely examined enough for his knowledge and complicity in all things Nazi. Fair enough but not really a compelling book. Peppered with Wikipedia grade research on a few topics (eg, paragraph on me163). Accuses previous authors of being armchair/ part time historians. Most of the time ,while I attempted to listen, my main thought was “what the heck is he trying to get at here”

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  • Subway
  • 08-05-2021

The Hartmann Bio You've Been Waiting For

While taking nothing away from Hartmann's achievements, this book goes well beyond the early post-war sycophantic hagiographies that placed Hartmann and other German aces on pedestals for adoration, presenting an academic-quality analysis that considers the fighter pilots' roles in the larger war, their places against the wartime and post-war political backdrops, and the part they played in post-war reconciliation. The author works in an appropriate amount of introspection that provides a good learning exercise for readers who may wish to examine their own attitudes.

Well-researched, written, and read -- highly recommended for anyone wishing to consider the Luftwaffe jagdflieger experience in context during and after the war.

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