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on 30 December 2015
I have for many years followed the enigma of the flight by Rudolf Hess to the UK in 1941. Some of the books have been well but partially informed and others have been plain “coo-coo”.
This was a time of “Big Boy’s Rules” when it was doubtful if we could survive and into the middle of this the Deputy Feuhrer dropped in for a few words, thinking he had access to the people he thought ran the country.
He was represented on both sides as someone who was mentally unbalanced but even if that was so he was a prize source of information at a time when any information was priceless.
The reported treatment was just to lock him up and isolate him and this reportedly continued until he was sent to Nuremburg accused of being a War Criminal. He then was imprisoned in Spandau for life until his controversial death in his nineties in Spandau.
I think that Peter Padfield, a person not new to the field, has in this book covered all of the previous information available and I congratulate him on this. There has been criticism that he does not come to firm conclusions but I think he has taken what is documented and done what he can with it, there are no absolutes.
I have always had difficulty in some of the opinions expressed out of context concerning the 1930s and early war years. The British working classes lost a male generation in WWI under horrific conditions and were then the main sufferers in the Great Depression. A number of brave, educated and honourable men, many from the aristocracy, also thought that “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”. The current fashion of speaking in a disparaging fashion of such men and dismissing them as “Appeasers” is lazy research.
When Hess came there were strong feelings on both sides that we should not be fighting each other again and at the highest levels there was a wish for the war to end no matter who was represented on either side. The Germans, of course, would benefit from fighting on just one front but we were not in a situation to open up another one and we had lost over 1 million tons of shipping in the months of March and April 1941.
Once he was here, it is probable that Brigadier Rees practised an attempt at brain-washing at Mytchett Place until he was sent to Maindiff Court Hospital and on to Nuremburg and Spandau.
There is so much conflicting material that it is possible to make up many theories but I think it is pretty certain the Royal family was involved in encouraging Hess to come over, that the various intelligence services played conflicting games and they did not share their knowledge with each other.
I do think the author has made a major contribution to assembling all of the conflicting evidence.
In all of that evidence there is still no satisfactory explanation of the lack of damage to Hess’s lung or an explanation of the role of “Slippery” Sam Hoare in Spain.
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on 24 November 2015
I hovered between three and four stars; I bought the book as I was impressed by Padfield's history of world war two submarine warfare, and the subject of Hess' flight has always interested me in any case.

The book is thorough in its approach, and is well written and easy to read. What I liked about the book is that it starts to look into the darker side of Britain and its behaviour in the late 30s and the early war years. The myth of a country united in the fight against the Third Reich takes a bit of a dent as the author discusses various personalities who may have considered a compromise peace with Hitler, either out of sympathy with Hitler's antiBolshevik stance, or a way to end a war that might not be won. Churchill's role of no surrender, no dialogue, stands out sharply against this background.

The book does well when it stays on the factual ground, and the author for the most part avoids drawing the reader to unwarranted conclusions. For this I commend him! However there is also a theme that Hess' flight was not an unsupported solo effort, and the author looks at what level of official support could Hess have had within the Third Reich. The author also look at what links there could have been in Great Britain that would have encouraged Hess to make his journey. The downside is that there is no smoking gun; there are missing documents, mysterious visitations, but an annoyingly persistent absence of facts. The author asks a little too much a little too often when he then infers or argues elements of plot or conspiracy - this is what loses the book one star for me - but it's subjective thing, so I'd encourage you to read the book for yourself and see what you think. Maybe I am just a little too cynical!

Overall I am glad I bought the book, and it will definitely get read a few more times as it's that sort of a read; the twists and turns and possibilities deserve reexamination, and that's why I've change my mind again and bumped up to four stars.
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on 20 November 2013
An intriguing book about a period of modern British history that has alwasy been shrouded in mystery. Why did Hess come to Britain at the beginning of the war? Was it with or without Hitler's knowledge? Did he bring a peace proposal from the Nazi goverment? Who were the appeasers in the British establishment who wanted to make peace with Hitler?
Would they have been right to trust his word? Churchill made sure very little got out to the public at the time becaue he knew (through Bletchley Park decrypts) Hitler was about to attack the Soviet Union and any promises Hitler made to Britain were likely to be broken once he had overrun Russia. Why was Hess kept in Spandau Gaol after the war and was his death suicide or assisted? Not every question is answered but it's a thundering good read!

Very prompt delivery from Amazon arrived in perfect condition.
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on 3 February 2016
Interesting story with which I was reasonably familiar. Peter Padfield has clearly done a great deal of research but was hindered by on-going official secrecy. There seemed to be a tendency for Padfield to fill in some gaps with his own hypotheses.

Padfield’s analysis puts Hess in a more favourable light than is usually the case. It is possible to detect a degree of sympathy from the author, eg the strong suggestion that Hess probably disassociated himself from the holocaust.

To summarise although I enjoyed the read, I was left unfulfilled. I am little the wiser about what Hess really wanted and whether or not there was collusion from the Allied side.
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on 22 February 2014
The book gets into the head of Hess and also gives some clear insights into Churchill and Hitler's thinking.

It gives an excellent insight into the security services in the UK and Germany. It also shows how strong the peace movements were in Germany and England.

I hope the author will consider writing about Goring next.
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on 22 September 2014
Interesting theories but poorly constructed. Very heavy going with much repetition. Little evidence given for many of its statements and no real final conclusion. Was Hess murdered or not and if so was it the British Secret Service. After all these years have elapsed why are some of the official papers still not released. Perhaps the book has been written to early before all the evidence has been gathered. Most appears to be circumstantial and in the end the book leaves one feeling exasperated.
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on 21 November 2013
As all the Official Papers to this story have been locked away for 100 years, most of us will be dead and buried before the truth is
told. This book is intelligent conjecture of a high probability, that Hess came to do a Peace Deal with Britain, so that Hitler could
concentrate all his forces against Russia. Well, in my view, the tragedy is, that Hess was quietly buried out of sight, and was probably
murdered, to keep the secret from the British Public.

Oh, what might have been? !!!
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on 12 November 2013
Interesting book this, but sadly not one that can be taken entirely seriously. Padfield has returned to the subject of Rudolf Hess and sadly his conspiracist credentials seem to have scarcely lessened since his biography of Hess some years ago.

This book is supposedly a reexamination of the Hess story - with the argument that Hess was expected in Britain by a clique of highly-placed individuals and that this story has since been covered up. Thankfully, Padfield gives the more extreme conspiracy nonsense - about Hess not being Hess, or about him being murdered - short shrift.

The book is generally well written, but the story that Padfield presents is not really convincing. Padfield might be right, but he cannot muster up any evidence to support his theory. So, on that basis, the sober reader must surely reject his thesis.
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on 15 September 2014
Tons of research to write this up so you can see why the author is widely regarded, however, there was so much information I kept losing the track of who was who, and I also found the lack of year when the author wrote the date of an event quite confusing at times as he jumped backwards and forwards as he had chosen to follow a player rather than a timeline. I would also have liked a much better summary at the end as I was left a little unsure of what to take out of the book re: who was responsible for what and why. I understand it is a still a subject shrouded in secrets and intrigue, but even so. Perhaps I have become too much of a product of the bullet-point age.

All said though, it is an intriguing story to read about and one worth the read if you're into this period of history.
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on 22 January 2014
I'm glad i only paid £3 for the kindle version because i was a little bit disappointed with this book.Peter Padfield is an author i usually enjoy but this seemed to be just going over old history.He did point out that quite eminent historians still believe that Hess flew to Britain on his own initiative without Hitlers knowledge and this is quite obviously not true.Hess didn't commit suicide either but the book didn't throw any light on what really happened.
I was just expecting more.
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