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on 17 October 1998
Having known Ray Toliver (one of the authors) as well as Erich Hartmann personally over the years, it is easy to understand why the book was not as forthcoming in certain areas. Erich's status as a Soviet POW for 10 and a half years had much to do with it. Erich's postwar life was also difficult upon repatriation. His outspokenness in the upper ranks of the Bundesluftwaffe and NATO limited his career, which is not covered in the early edition. However, given this, the biography is a good insight into a young man who performed at the highest level, fighting for his nation, and never abandoning his comrades. This was the reason for his being handed over to the Soviets by his American captors. Hartmann was not only a great pilot, but a great man, who always voiced his dissent, never compromising.
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on 4 June 2004
I read this book after reading "Pappy" Boyington's "Baa Baa Blacksheep" and Saburo Sakai's "Samurai!". I found "The Blond Knight of Germany" a bit cold and impersonal: maybe because it has not been written by Hartmann himself, like the other two books I mentioned before. Actually, I much preferred these two books to "The Blond Knight": they are more fascinating and more "deep" in terms of digging in the pilots' life and personality.
Regarding style, I found several repetitions made by the authors, like whole concepts or sentences repeated 2 or 3 times or more, along the same chapter or in different chapters: for example, the way Hartmann came to his fighting technique, or the description of some characters, etc. That's might be due to the fact that the authors didn't coordinate their contribution in writing the book, so they both wrote the same thing, or whatever. Anyway, it was quite annoying.
I have also found some disturbing technical/historical imprecisions, such as:
- Hartmann piloting a Bf.109G-7 and G-16 (page 310). The G-7 was a proposed version in which all the successive modifications to the Bf.109 G-6 version should have been standardized, but it never entered in production; the G-16 was the last and most armoured version of the G serie, but it did not reach operations.
- The authors state that the Polikarpov I-151 and I-153 were the evolution of the I-16 "Rata" (page 121). Wrong, they were absolutely different planes: the I-16 "Rata" was a monoplane, while the I-151 and I-153 "Chaika" were the two versions of a biplane.
- It is mentioned the Yak-11 flying as bomber escort in spring 1944 (pages 170-171). The Yak-11 was developed in late 1945 as a Yak-3 conversion trainer with an ASh-21 radial engine, eventually becaming the Yak-11 Trainer.
Finally, I've found this book, expecially in the beginning, excessively "Hartmann-fan", who is almost seen as the perfect man.
I also found it somehow apologetic towards Adolf Hitler: in particular, he is shown as a poor suffering man devote to his nation and surrounded by misleading generals, rather than the cruel dictator who conceived the extermination camps and started World War II massacre in Europe.
In summary, an interesting book to know something about the life of the highest scoring fighter ace of all times and about Eastern WWII front, but not much more.
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on 30 October 1997
This biography of Erich Hartmann goes into a lot more that simply his military exploits. It charts his life from his boyhood, the strength and support provided by his family and his own growing strength of character. So by the time he had left Fighter Training School he was prepared for what lay ahead. In the vast expanses of Soviet airspace in the east this outgoing, extrovert pilot came into his own. Every great ace has his own distinct style. Hans-Joachim Marseille had his deflection shot at unbelievable angles, Erich Hartmann would have his 'close-range' shot. The strategy whereby you come so close to the enemy aircraft,' that your canopy glass fills with the enemy craft's mass,' and then you fire. Hartmann would become legendary for this tactic. Making him the highest scoring German Ace with 352 kills of all kinds of aircraft. The only other fighter pilot really worth mentioning with Hartmann would have to be Hans-Joachim Marseille, the 'Star of Africa'. The controversy comes into play because of those who consider 3 Russian fighter planes being equal to one western-flown fighterplane. That being so then one is tempted to name Marseille with his 158kills( all against British aircraft) as the premiere fighter pilot. Nevertheless, in the final analysis it must be said that Hartmann was really in a class of his own.
He showed even more courage and resilience when he was under Soviet imprisonment, and his family's support at this time was also crucial.
He held his head high and refused to give in under pressure. He came back a hero and readjusted to life in Germany again with his typical strength of character. The two authors have written an excellent biography on a man whose inner strength, truthfulness and courage are an example for all.
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on 18 April 2010
Eric Hartmann, great man, great story, adds to the scarce amount of information about air combat on the Eastern front, what an incredible pilot & survivor. This story deserves to be made into a drama similar to Band of Brothers, Its that inspiring.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in air combat, it makes for a much welcome change from the squadrons of books that are available about the Western theater.
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on 24 February 2010
I was really looking forward to reading this, as it took a while to find and is the only book available on the world's top scoring fighter ace.

Hartmann had an incredible career and how many interesting stories he must have had, but what a shame that many are only touched on in the briefest terms here - and in a very dry manner.

Obviously Hartmann didn't write the book and perhaps it would have been more readable if he had, there is nothing wrong with it as such, it is obviously very dificult to add a human aspect to someone else's story. It is worth reading, but I would recommend trying before buying as it's not for everyone. There are much better Luftwaffe autobiographies out there.
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on 29 July 2014
A book for the enthusiast who will love the detail of the top scoring fighter pilot of all time with 352 victories. I found the book to be a little repetitive, however it did enlighten me as to how Erich Hartmann scored his victories, and, more importantly, survived to be able to rack up such a score, when so many German aces were lost in the war.
The true appeal of the book is the description of overcoming adversity in a Russian Prison spending 10 years of his life there after the war had finished.
It has had many readers over the years but feel that the newer, illustrated and larger works on this amazing pilot would be more readable and less repetitive in parts.
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on 8 August 2010
Very nice book.
The history of Erich Hartmann is fascinating but even more are fascinating the information given on WW2 German pilots.
Also, in this book, you could find a some info on a fact not very well know by most: German POW kept in Russia for up to ten years after the end of WW2.
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on 5 July 1998
I have read this book three times over the last twenty years and it has been just as exciting each time. It is not a war book. It is a book about Erich Hartmann at war. I don't agree that we should discount his 352 kills just because it was against the Russians. That is the typical American ego at work. Hartmann fought the Americans over the Ploesti Oil Fields and shot down FIVE P-51 Mustangs in one day. What more proof do we need of his flying gifts? The Author is an American Airforce officer. I am sure the accounts are accurate. What a story!!!
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on 9 September 2013
Excellent book, no other possible comments. It was well packeted and the postage was fast. I also enjoyed the reading of the book written with many precisions and details by the Air Force officer ToIiver.
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on 15 July 1998
One excerpt concerns me, in the chapter, "Stalin Hawks", wherein the Polikarpov I-16 was described thusly: "The Rata was a single-seat, gull-wing biplane introduced to air combat in the Spanish Civil War." Since the I-16 was a monoplane...I felt that much of the rest of the book was probably sloppy technically. (I would have liked to have seen some in-depth technical air equipment comparisons done by Eric...but only the IL-2 Stormovik seemed to rate some honorable mentions). The air tactics and prison camp portions of the book were very good, but it got sidetracked into other areas which, I feel, were there to fill up space and make you think that you bought a large volume for your money. I am glad that I read it, but I hope that there is a better one, about this Teutonic Knight, out there in the market place. Some of the "wholesomeness" was applied with a trowel and the post war West German politics and criticisms discounted as being compl! ! etely anti-Eric and without any merit. Probably the real story lies somewhere in between. (I am thinking of purchasing the other volume about Eric Hartmann currently on the market, but wonder about its' objectivity and technical depth and accuracy since it is co-authored by his wife.) You know, I just never did feel like I was on an air mission with the same discriptive feeling that I obtained from the books of Adolph Galland, Hans Rudel, Saburo Sakai, etc. etc. I miss that personal touch and feel that more autobiographical tidbits are required in a book of this nature: Especially since Eric was still alive at the time of its' writing. I wonder how much he was involved in the compilation. (These touches tend to make your spirit soar in an aviation chronicle).
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