The Knight, Death and the Devil

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9780688058364: The Knight, Death and the Devil

An historical novel focuses on the life of Hermann Goring, who embodied the paradox of evil

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From Publishers Weekly:

Best known for her tender novel of a young girl's rite of passage, Rumors of Peace , Leffland ventures into remarkably different territory here with a massive reconstruction of the life of Nazi leader Hermann Goring. The subtitle, "A Novel of a Life Corrupted by Evil," indicates Leffland's fascination with this scion of an aristocratic family, whose belief that Hitler could restore Germany to her former "glory" led to a gradual erosion of his ethical judgment and his transformation into a man capable of the most callous brutality. Implicitly asking the question, what turns a man into a monster? Leffland herself sometimes seems bewildered by the contradictions in Goring's psyche. A husband devoted to an invalid wife, an art collector of unerring good taste, a sentimental lover of animals, Goring began as a sincere if excessively romantic patriot whose defects of personality--egomania, self-serving delusions and brash opportunism--unbalanced his character and made him a virtual case history in the banality of evil. With a wealth of carefully researched, keenly observed detail, Leffland describes the genetic, environmental and historical influences that shaped Goring's life. She follows his career as a WW I air ace (his lifelong addiction to morphine was the result of battle wounds) and analyzes his role as the Fuhrer's brilliant advisor on both military and political strategy, commander of the Luftwaffe, creator of the Gestapo and of the first concentration camps. Leffland draws compelling portraits of the period's leading players and uses fictional characters to convey such events as the genocide of Europe's Jews. Although Goring remains essentially an enigmatic and unappealing character, the growth of his complicity in his country's moral depravity makes absorbing reading. The reader cannot help but be swept up in a narrative that escalates, as did WW II, to a final Gotterdammerung for the Nazi Reich. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

A work of honesty and passion, this historical novel is an eminently readable depiction of Hermann Goring, head of the Luftwaffe and backbone of the Nazi party. Goring was a man both pitiable and conniving; loving toward his children yet an able assassin; unparalleled as an art thief; decadent to the point of effeminacy in his plush robes; drug-addicted; suspicious of Himmler and Goebbels; and in need of his Fuhrer's favor and of his country's triumph, yet perhaps not defeated without them. Leffland's saga deftly captures not only the historical antecedents that made Germany central to 20th-century history but some of those the Nazi juggernaut crushed on the way. The historical aspect is occasionally a little lumpy, but the insights of a fine novelist--from the depiction in human terms of Nazi squabbles to the gassing of a disabled person--more than redress the balance. A lousy title but thoroughly recommended.
- Peter Bricklebank, City Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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