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on 2 May 2017
A sort of interesting book but it is completely mis-titled. There is very little air combat description and what there is is sketchy and near the end. No real finish to the book. Hard to recommend.
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on 24 October 2010
A lot has been written about the Battle of Britain from the British point of view and this book helps restore the balance and hopefully will impart a little understanding along the way.

The book is subtitled `A View from the Other Side', and is precisely that. If like myself you have read, watched and listened to views and stories from the Battle of Britain this year you may have wondered what drove the more level headed Germans (not the Nazis) to make war on so many of their neighbours. This book should begin to clear some of the fog and also make you realise that they are not necessarily the well organised, forward thinking, rule making automatons that some people imagine. In fact, it would appear that they are actually quite British in their behaviour and given the same conditions we may well have reacted in a similar manner.
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on 28 February 2013
I read this shortly after reading Galland's 'The First and the Last' and found it an excellent companion book, written in a far more personally engaging manner and bringing a high degree of humanity into the equation. As a British reader I find it often tempting to demonise past national enemies and this book did a good job of being honest about failings but also giving the sense that had I been in the same position I might have done the same thing. I haven't yet re-read it but I will definitely be keeping this on my bookshelf to re-read in future. It's not easy cheerful reading but it is very good.
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on 19 August 1999
A well-written and detailed description of the authors young life and rise into the Luftwaffe and an interesting insight into the thinking in pre-war Germany and the conditions in the army at that time. A must for anyone interested in WWII or the Battle of Britain but a very good read simply for the human interest and adventure as well.
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on 14 November 2006
I, too, was very impressed by this book. The author's integrity and honesty shine through as do his achievements at a very young age. I find it remarkable how very much his story is like the stories of the young RAF pilots on the English side of the Channel. An excellent read.
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on 13 September 2010
As a german I read the book to learn more about the young mens mind back then in the 3rd Reich, and about how aircombat was like. The book fulfilled both wishes. For example I like the description of the authors social background, like beeing mobbed by wealthier people in the little city. What I miss are some words about his decision to really kill people. But maybe it was just normal back then, when you were trained to kill. I like that he mentions weak points and mistakes of the Luftwaffe, like neglecting the radio communications, or flying in a way they can be easily intercepted by the Britans. I can recommend the book as an authentic, unique insight into the authors life and the circumstances of becoming a figther-pilot back then. The book is free from heroisation (what you often find in other books about figther-pilots).
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As the author states, there's not much written from the other side in the war in the air in WW2. This fills in some historical gaps with a clearly written and un-glorified manner. I have read much about the RAF in the Battle of Britain and to be honest have actually had little interest in the dastardly huns on the other side. I guess that was a little remiss and I understand quite a bit more of the Luftwaffe having read this. It certainly won't make you feel sympathetic, but it puts a human face on their hardships and terrors. Did you know that the Luftwaffe suffered from Channel Fever and an astonishing level of unexplained mechanical failure during the Battle of Britain. The image of the hardened German fighter pilot is somewhat at odds with the reality of men who started to question their ability to win and the knowledge of in many of their eyes, certain death at the hands of the RAF. I was also under the impression that the Luftwaffe was much better prepared than they were - seems as if the RAF whilst certainly worse off had many parrallels with the German air force with lack of equipment and untrained men.

If you are an officianardo of aircraft history in battle then this book is one of the more interesting, informative and entertaining that you wil find. It's certainly a good addtion to my library.
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on 29 July 2010
An excellent book, telling the story of the most important batlle of WWII from the other side. My father was a bomber command piloy during WWII and I grew up with his views and the views offered or portrayed by films and the popular media. The book gives an excellent historic build up to WWII and helps one to understand that the Treaty of Versailles made WWII inevitable.

The formation and the build up of the Luftwaffe is covered in detail and I was suprised to discover that the Germans were not as organised as one is generalyy lead to believe, particularly in terms of communications.

This is not just a book for the historian, but for the aviation enthusiast as well as well as for those who enjoy a bibliography. For me it shows that the young men of Germany were no different to the young men on the other side. Both were sent off to war by people in power and gave their young precious lives tragically just the same.

One of the most enjoyable books that I have ever read. Thank you Ulrich!
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on 18 October 2013
Essentially this is the personal story of the life of a young Luftwaffe pilot from his childhood through to his capture in October 1940 after having been shot down over southern England towards the end of the Battle of Britain. It's well written, but anyone buying the book in the belief from its title that it is predominantly about aerial warfare will be disappointed. In the opening 29 pages there is a description of the action in which the author was shot down, but in fact, in a book extending to over 350 pages, the Second World war does not start until page 199. Most of the book until then describes the author's childhood and schooling, followed by early life and training in the emerging German airforce. It is not until the latter half of the book that combats are described, generally through a series of letters home. This is a book that gives an insight into what it was probably like to be a young man brought up in an increasingly militaristic environment where he was being readied for war, rather than a "blood and thunder" war experience.
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on 8 March 2011
Reading a history of this conflict from the point of view of the agressor, rather than the defender, and from the point of view of the loser, rather than the winner, offers a history buff a unique opportunity to complete their picture of this critical event in British history.

Steinhilper was a fighter pilot in the Luftwaffe in 1940 and his honest and authentic biography caused mixed emotions in me. I found it difficult to emphathise with his plight as a German fighter pilot in summer 1940, battling fatigue, 'channel sickness', the constant loss of dear comrades and a relentless enemy who eventually brought him down over British soil. He was after all the attacker, not the attacked, and whether deliberately, or inadvertently, his biography conveys all the mindless fervour and unquestioning belief this young German shared in the rightness and purity of the German war on Europe.

The book dwells much on his early years, and drags a little because Steinhilper spent most of the first weeks of the Battle out of the action, fiddling with radio communications and arguing with his CO, ace Adolph Galland, about the value of radio communications in aircraft. This is a slightly interesting side note to the main action, and may interest some readers (it just didn't interest this one!)

The action heats up when Steinhilper finally starts flying combat missions, and the author succeeds in combining period diary entries with recollections from the time, to build a picture of a young, nervous and occasionally, yes, cowardly pilot who within weeks of combat became a veteran, emotionally blunted by the war, who came to accept that sooner or later he would not return make it back over the Channel.

I finished the book by re reading the section where Steinhilper described being shot down, and mentally cheering that RAF pilot. Maybe not the effect Steinhilper was looking for, but I did appreciate his frankness, and his ability to tell his story without trying to sell himself (as Galland indeed did in his memoirs) as an airborne hero of the Reich.
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