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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2010
The book is well written though compared with the other Trautmann biography it's a bit dry and clinical. The main bulk of the book is focused on his early life in Germany and his experiences as a soldier, which is an excellent account. There are interesting details in this account compared to the other, and new information released such as the fact that he witnessed a mass execution of Jews but had never spoken about it until recently. Alongside Trautmann's experiences are contexts of what was occuring historically at the time, which I think will really help people who don't know much about pre war Germany, WW2 and post war Britain, however, after a while I found it rather tedious and would skip a paragraph so I could get back to Bert's story. I was also severely disappointed in how his amazing football career was squeezed into two meagre chapters. I also find myself doubting Catrine Clay as a historian/biographer as she makes glaringly obviously mistakes about simple things such as Bert's age/birth date yet she has information on this for us all to see in the photo section which shows us Bert's detailed POW records. This makes me think what other mistakes has she made? But I found the information about his family life charming and was introduced to a new character, his cousin Helga who lived with the family as a sort of adopted daughter, which I had never read about before.

It is a decent read overall, but compared to Trautmann: The Biography, I found it too much like a text book. From this account I was left a little cold and disappointed. Trautmann: The Biography is a much more detailed and heart felt account of his life and I would seriously recommend it to all Trautmann fans or fans of football in general. If you are unsure which book to purchase, it is quite simple: if you want a detailed account of Bert's young life and war years, buy this book. If you want an account of his footballing career, buy Trautmann: the biography by Alan Rowlands.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2010
Catrine Clay has done an excellent job of detailing Bert Trautmann's life, compiled from interviews with a still-sharp Trautmann and a lifetime of documentation. Despite his prominent fame as a legendary Manchester City goalkeeper, here Clay mostly concentrates on the fascinating details of Trautmann's pre-football life - especially intriguing since before being an English goalkeeper he was a devoted Hitler Youth member, a medal-earning soldier for the Luftwaffe and witness to some of the most horrific fighting in WWII, including D-Day and on the Eastern Front. These events are detailed with grim realism and deft if brisk storytelling ability. The movement from soldier to British POW, to small-time footballer and to celebrated goalkeeper is told with endearing charm, and whilst both sides of Trautmann's personality are covered (he could be violent both on and off the pitch) this serves only to make a more interesting and informative character. Following Trautmann's falling in love with England and Lancashire in particular is engrossing (he changes his name from Bernhard to Bert), and Clay tells the story with the right balance of sentimentality and cerebral thought.
Whilst some may be disapointed by the relative lack of in-depth football analysis, this biography serves as a great discussion of an important man and an important time. A real treat to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2013
I remember Trautmann well.He featured in one of the first FA Cup finals i saw on tv.Also i saw him play when City lost 5-4 in a thrilling match at Highbury in 1961.A memory that has stayed with me over 50 years.I was therefore interested to read more about Trautmann.unfortunately i was to be disappointed by this book.For some reason the author wanted to follow her own agenda.so there are pages where Trautmann is simply nowhere to be seen.we are told about Hitler youth marching songs,Nazi campaigns in europe.Hitler' war directives and his last testament.The assasination plot against Hitler,the war crimes trials aginst the Nazis.It is not till page 220 that there is any mention about Trautmann's football career and the part of his life for which he is famous is crammed into the last 80 pages.There is an epilogue of 16 pages which covers the last 50years of his life.I had to go to Wikipedia to learn more about his football career and how he ended his playing days.
It is clear that the author has relied almost solely on the taped interviews with Trautmann.the fact that she has not bothered to interview anybody else means we have no true appreciation of Trautmann's character,It is clear that he has a violent temper and is not an easy man to live with.However we dont really get to understand why this is.It would appear that Trautmann was sent off on a number of occasions and ended his football career after one such sending off.In those days it was very unusual to see a keeper sent off and i cannot recall this happening on a regular basis till thge latter part of last century.So in all a rather disappointing book.Glad i took this out of the library and did not buy it !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2013
I bought this book following Bert Trautmann's death in July 2013. I was aware that he was a German paratrooper who became Manchester City's goalkeeper (of broken neck fame) and that he was revered by those that saw him. His life seemed fascinating - I wanted to know more.

The early chapters were very interesting about Bert's upbringing through the Hitler Youth and really impressed upon me the level of indoctrination the Nazis sought to impart on young Germans. Bert was clearly a gifted athlete, a golden boy who fitted the Nazi ideal perfectly - tall, blonde, strong, and brave.

His war record was remarkable - he kept fighting throughout World War 2 in some of the most intense theatres of the conflict, even spending time in a truly disgusting Soviet jail and narrowly missing death on numerous occasions. However, large tracts of this sction of the book seem to be padded out with information about Hitler's strategy and the wider historical picture. This may be of interest to some, but Trautmann's own life and experience was the reason I'd bought the book, not a World War 2 history lesson.

Being a native of England's North West I was particularly fascinated by the chapters dealing with his imprisonment in Newton-Le-Willows and his eventual denazification. Many of these anecdoctes were heartwarming and shone a light on a little explored aspect of the immediate post war. The simple humanity of many of the Brits Trautmann came into contact with (and their contrast with German attitudes) was a particular delight.

The book then covers his football career, culminating in the famous 1956 Cup Final. His long life after this is skated over very rapidly, despite being of interest to this reader. So although I found the book useful and finshed reading it very quickly, I did feel it could have contained more for football anoraks like me (who are a likely audience) including his work with the German FA.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2012
If you want to read a biography of Trautmann the footballer,then this book is probably not for you,as it is only towards the end that there is any great detail about Bert Trautmann the iconic goal-keeper for Manchester City in the 1950's.However,if you want to know the events and environment that influenced what Bert Trautmann became,namely the hero of the 1956 Cup Final,and the fact,which everyone knows, that he broke his neck, and still continued playing to the end,then this is the book for you.
It covers his youth, his indoctrination/brainwashing into the Hitler propoganda,and his fighting exploits in the Second World War,his transfer to Britain as a POW,and his eventual assimilation intyo the British way of life. He had some tragic events in his life,but his underlying philosophy about life seemed to get him through,and now enjoys a tranquil life in Spain.
Catrine Clay weaves the historical fact into the story well, and does not make it too heavy or burdensome. It is a good story and tells of a hero warts and all.Well worth reading ieven for the non football enthusiast.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
German ex-prisoner of war Bert Trautmann will forever be part of football folklore following his refusal to leave the field after breaking his neck whilst playing for Manchester City in the 1956 FA Cup final, but anybody that reads this fascinating book will learn that that was just one of many noteworthy events in Trautmanns extraordinary life. For example it could be argued that he more than anybody helped change the average Britons perception of the people of Germany following World War Two.

Anyone buying this book solely to read about Bert Trautmann the footballer will be disappointed though because only a few pages towards the end are about his playing career. Instead, the vast majority of the book concerns his early days in Bremen, which describe the rise of Adolf Hitler, Hitler Youth & Nazi Germany and his wartime experiences, initially spent serving as a soldier on the Russian front before moving on to become a parachutist.

Whilst Bert Trautmann can truly be described as being a remarkable man this book never attempts to gloss over the fact that that he is just an ordinary man with faults like anybody else. It tells us that he was quick-tempered, a character flaw that got him into plenty of trouble over the years and it describes how he turned his back on his baby daughter after walking away from his relationship with her unmarried mother.

I'm not normally one to take an interest in such things, but through reading about Trautmanns experiences I was able to learn a great deal about World War Two from the German perspective. I was also touched to read about the many acts of friendship from the public that were offered to Trautmann whilst he was a POW in Lancashire following the war; it can never be a bad thing to read things that allow me to feel proud to be British.

I thought this was an excellent book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2010
I have just finished reading Trautmann's Journey - the life story of Bert Trautmann.

It is about how an enthusiastic Hitler Youth and then member of the elite German Parachute Corps became a prisoner of war in Britain, after a very active war, mostly in Russia but also in France, at Arnhem and in the Ardennes.

He was classified as 'black', i.e. hard core Nazi and put into a category A camp accordingly. It took several years before he was finally re-categorised as being 'white'. All the while he was engaging in his great passion and playing football.

In 1948 Trautmann was offered repatriation. He refused and then got a job with one of the German ex pow teams engaged in clearing unexploded bombs in the UK . In this period, he started playing semi-professional football in the UK.

Most of the rest of the book deals with his football career. I am the first one to proclaim myself disinterested and disgusted with the 'round ball game', however, even I was captivated and entranced with the tale of the 'bloody German's' rise into the affection of the Man City fans.

For me this is a book not so much about a footballer or a war veteran, but about the development and the problems of Anglo-German relations on a personal level after the Second World War.

Well written and easy to read the book is perhaps at times verging on being a hagiography, only good things are said about Bert, possibly because there are only good things to be said, but perhaps the author could have cast her interview net a wee bit broader.

All in all, Bert emerges as an admirable, valiant and above all candid individual. Well worth a read if you would like to have an insight into how Germans and Britons slowly developed a relationship during the nineteen fifties and sixties.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2013
This is a great book about a very interesting character. Clay is very good at setting out the historical context, such as the background to the Hitler Youth and the Germany that Trautmann was living in at the start of the war, which gives the book a far deeper feel than it could otherwise have had.

However, at times Clay forgets that this is a biography of Bert Trautmann and she gets lost in historical speculation or detail that wasn't relevant to Trautmann's experience of the war. Clay, for example, re-opens the debate on Neville Chamberlain's 'little piece of paper', and conjectures whether the war would have been different if England had taken a tougher stance earlier. On the other side of the coin, she gives details of a number of the plots to assassinate Hitler.

This may be interesting as a piece of light historical speculation, but is no more relevant to Bert Trautmann than it was to any other person alive at the time.

Other than that, my only criticism is that a few of her sentences (for me at least) required repeated reading to try and work out what she meant. Trautmann also starts playing for Man City in the First Division, but then gets promoted to the First Division next season, which is confusing.

But all in all a good book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Catrine Clay's wonderful book sets out to write the story of the late Bert Trautmann's life using it (his life story) as a way of telling a slice of 20th century European history. Indeed she makes this intention clear in her 'Acknowledgements' at the end of the book and it may be that one or two reviewers here on Amazon didn't actually finish reading it before they posted their critical comments about it not being a 'proper' biography of the great goalkeeper.

Be that as it may, I remember being at primary school back in the early 1950's and recalling that Bert Trautmann was the most famous goalkeeper in England - and he was a German!! Shock horror... His story, set against the history of his (and our) times, is indeed stranger than fiction, and Catrine Clay has told it in such a way as to bring to the fore the messages of fortitude, reconciliation and forgiveness which characterise the man and the people of Lancashire with whom he spent his greatest days as a footballer.

It's a great story beautifully written - and not just for fans of the game. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2013
I write these lines feeling very sad, for the subject of this superb book, Bert Trautmann has passed away today (19.07.2013). I grew up absorbed in my fathers tales of Bert's days with St Helens Town, the fan's idolised the tall blond "Jerry" peforming miracles between the sticks! He and his pals used to "leg it" from behind one goal to the other after half time, just to get that bit closer to their unlikely hero.
I say "unlikely" because Bert was a German P.O.W fresh from service against the allies in the elite German Paratroop's! I advise both historian and sport fanatic alike to lose yourself within the lines of this absolutely marvellous book, a book awash with integrity, achievement, and more importantly it portrays the forgiveness former adversaries can show one another and unite in the common bond of sport.
Rest in peace "good old" Bert!
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