Seeing as modelling and painting aircraft can at times feel like a chore, I have found that a certain single-mindedness in my spare time interests is advisable to ensure that I keep cranking out painted aircraft. One of the ways I do this is by reading books and watching TV-shows relevant to my painting projects. A word of warning - watching TV-shows about the Pacific air war or the Flying Tigers can be... trying... when one is fervently trying to finish that last flight of Spits!
This summer, I got a Kindle and never looked back. Still, one of the weaknesses of the device is that the selection of e-books (though massive and growing) is quite limited once one decides to stray outside mainstream American and English literature. Great was my surprise when during a shop search I stumbled upon a book by German pilot legend Hans Ulrich Rudel, who flew more than 2,500 combat sorties during World War II.
Rudel's book details his experiences as a Stuka pilot from the start of the war to the very end, and offer a unique look into the mindset of one of Nazi-Germany's pilot elite. Rudel flew over the Eastern Front, and his book gives an overview of the events that will be familiar to anyone who have been reading about the war. Rudel writes in a pleasant and intimate manner and in the present term, at times making for a very intense reading experience. A mix between down-to-earth strategic overviews, war comradeship, harrowing sortie descriptions and the occasional view of the behind-the-scenes politics of the Reich makes for an interesting and easy read, though the crushing feeling of mounting despair makes the book increasingly disturbing towards the end. Rudel truly did it all and saw it all, again paying homage to that old saying "truth is stranger than fiction".
Unfortuneately, the book was rather meager on the tactical and technical side despite the occasional mention of the subjects. Also be warned that Rudel's political views are not exactly moderate, being a member of the Nazi party and an outspoken right-wing supporter after the war and all the way up to his death. To this day, Rudel remains a hero and icon to many extremist right-wing supporters.
All in all, the book seems very suitable for gamers playing battles on the Eastern Front (whether in the air or on the ground), though from my current perspective (the Battle of Britain), the book was quite irrelevant. Its greatest strength and weakness is that it contains the memoirs of a single person, making its focus admirable though its scope limited.
To sum up, a mix of enjoyable episodes yet (for me) all too familiar strategic overviews makes this book score 4 out of 6 with me, and I would recommend it to people with a particular interest in the subject only.
More information on Hans Ulrich Rudel: