Grub Street’s recently released Iron Man: Rudolph Bertold: Germany’s Indomitable Fighter Ace of World War I has been receiving a lot of positive attention. Today, The New Britain Herald published a great piece on author Peter Kilduff and his new book. Read it in full below:
Monday, January 21, 2013
By Scott Whipple
NEW BRITAIN — City resident and author Peter Kilduff has done it again. According to critics, he has achieved another triumph, writing about yet another World War I German fighter pilot, Rudolf Berthold.
Kilduff has authored several books on the legendary “Red Baron,” Manfred von Richthofen; also Carl Degelow, the First World War’s last airfighter knight, and Herman Goering and his experiences as a World War I fighter plot.
Berthold, called “the iron man of German fighter pilots” in World War I, had 44 kills. He was wounded, shot down and crashed six times and was an early recipient of the prized Knight’s Cross.
Kilduff chose the book title (“Iron Man — Rudolf Berthold: Germany’s Indomitable Fighter Ace of World War I”) after recalling a 1967 meeting with Paul Straehle, one of Berthold’s fellow pilots. “Berthold was an Iron Man,” said Straehle, “with an absolutely unbendable iron will.”
Relentless in his approach to aerial combat, on six occasions Berthold cut short his convalescent leave to return to air combat with his comrades. His right arm shattered to the bone, he taught himself to fly using just his left hand.
Kilduff, who speaks German, says no biographies of Berthold existed in English when he began his research. Biographies published during the 1930s ignored the fact that Berthold was a monarchist and hardly the fascist as portrayed by his German biographers. A real find was Berthold’s diary which yielded candid information about Berthold’s impressions and beliefs. Kilduff discovered Berthold’s religious sentiments had been expunged by Nazi propagandists.
Walter Boyne, aviation historian and author of more than 50 books, gave “Iron Man…” five stars. In his review for Amazon, Boyne observes that “aficionados of World War I aerial combat will appreciate the way Kilduff presents the battle scenes. He also does a particularly effective job in pointing out the problems in establishing who scored which victory, when and where, even when given access to the war records of both sides.”
James Streckfuss, writing in the Winter 2012 issue of Over the Front, a quarterly journal for World War I aviation historians, notes that “Kilduff handles the story of the ace’s life and death with his usual blend of close attention to detail and unparalleled appreciation of the broader picture. Highly recommended.”