Over the last 70 years, in countless books and essays, Hermann Göring 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 Göring – Fighter Ace' is the first in-depth look at Göring’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, Göring 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. Göring 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 Mérite. Peter Kilduff has produced a landmark volume based on extensive research into Göring’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 Göring’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 Göring – 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.
As one of the most successful German fighter pilots of World War I Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold was victorious in forty-four aerial combats. He was also shot down or forced to land after six fights and survived crash landings in every case. Early in World War I, when only fighter pilots were awarded the Kingdom of Prussia’s (and de facto, Imperial Germany’s ) highest bravery decoration, the Pour le Mérite, Rudolf Berthold became the tenth recipient of the honor. Of that early cohort of air heroes, only Berthold and one other pilot survived the war. This book tells his remarkable story. Six weeks into the war, Berthold became the first airman in the 2nd Army area to be awarded an Iron Cross in recognition of his bravery and tenacity in combat. The symbolism of the award was appropriate. Described by one of his pilot protégés as, ‘an Iron Man – with an absolutely unbendable iron will’, he was a dedicated patriot. And, after he became a fighter pilot, he demonstrated a fierce fighting spirit in many encounters with British and French adversaries. All of his aerial combats with other Pour le Mérite flyers are detailed in this book. Indeed, Berthold was so relentless in his approach to aerial combat, when badly wounded, on at least six occasions, he cut short his convalescent leave to return to flying with his comrades. This included a hit to his right arm, which shattered the bone, rendering it useless – undaunted Berthold taught himself to fly using his left. Peter Kilduff has produced a landmark volume based on extensive research into Rudolf Berthold’s life and military career to form the most complete account yet about Germany’s sixth highest scoring fighter ace of WWI. Illustrated with over eighty photographs and other artworks, many of which have never been published before, Iron Man tells the tale of this ruthless, fearless and, above all, very patriotic fighter whose perseverance and bravery made him one of the most famous airmen of World War I.