Richthofen: Beyond the Legend of the Red Baron

Peter Kilduff, Author
Peter Kilduff, Author John Wiley & Sons $27.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-471-00877-4
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-471-12033-9
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-86019-990-5
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Kilduff, a former editor of Over the Front magazine, has combed recently released records in Germany for this life story of WW I flying ace Manfred von Richthofen. A quintessential man of war, Richthofen was killed in action in 1918 at the age of 25; he left behind a record of 80 downed planes but nothing significant in the way of diaries or correspondence. His inner life is correspondingly obscure. Richthofen's public roles as pilot, leader and heroic symbol made him a national hero whose mystique endures to the present day. As a commander he used his reputation to secure the best pilots and equipment, and his Jagdeschwader was arguably the most accomplished fighter unit on either side of the air war, just as he was arguably the war's greatest fighter pilot. Kilduff focuses on details, clarifying Richthofen's victory list and analyzing the circumstances of how he was shot down. But a discussion of the dynamics of Fighter Wing 1 and the impact of Richthofen's elitism on Germany's air force would have made this more than a routine, though useful, military biography. Photos not seen by PW . (Mar.)
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