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The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemunde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era Hardcover – September 1, 1994

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029228956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029228951
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on previously untapped sources, Neufeld's comprehensive history of German rocket research and development during WWII includes an analysis of Hitler's indirect involvement with the Peenemunde-based project and SS chief Heinrich Himmler's ultimate domination of it. The study reveals how the decision came about to use slave labor from the concentration camps to manufacture the terrifying "buzz bombs" that, according to Neufeld, had minimal effect on the course of the war. He presents solid evidence that the project's technical director-Wernher von Braun, who later headed NASA's rock booster program-was an SS officer, and describes his 1944 arrest accused of sabotaging the A-4 project by concentrating more on space flight than on his duties. Von Braun was freed after several days. The author discusses the postwar rebirth of the rocket program at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., where von Braun and several of his Peenemunde colleagues played a historic role in the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile and the space-launch vehicle. Neufeld, curator of WWII history at the National Air and Space Museum, has written a major study of the Nazi rocket program. Illustrations.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Neufeld, the curator of World War II history at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., provides a well-written, comprehensively researched analysis of Nazi Germany's missile program and its antecedents. The German army became interested in rocket technology during the 1930s at the urging of Karl Becker, an engineer who believed a radical new weapon could deliver a psychological blow to an enemy. The construction of Peenemunde in 1936-37 provided a focal point for research and development that made guided missiles a reality despite Germany's limited material and scientific resources. Neufeld shows that while the rocket program was not Nazi in origin, its leaders readily compromised themselves by accepting National Socialism, especially in agreeing to the widespread use of slave labor. A more ambiguous legacy of Peenemunde is its rocket technology, which decisively shaped the second half of the 20th century. For academic collections.
D.E. Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kevin W. Parker on June 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book told me more than I wanted to know about the development of the V-2. It goes into excruciating detail about everything that went on: who did what and when, who in the Reich supported the effort, who opposed it (and how the supporters got around the detractors).
I was most interested in the technical challenges and how they were dealt with (and bemused to find that some of the most gifted of the engineers were killed during the war-one wonders how much better Project Apollo might have gone if they'd still been around). There's also significant insight into how the Third Reich really worked (more a collection of competing bureaucracies than the monolithic entity it's generally considered to be) and an extensive discussion of the culpability of von Braun and some of the others in the atrocities of the Third Reich and the V-2 manufacturing effort itself, particularly the slave labor camp at Mittelwerk.
In short, interesting but a bit too much; however, still the definitive work on the subject. I will have to reread Ordway's The Rocket Team for comparison someday.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mastermindquiet on February 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A rather serious book that focuses more on the politics and organizational challenges than on the technology and day to day operations. He also discusses the forced labor workers who worked not only at Peenemunde but also in the underground factories, worked literally to death in some cases. The book itself is rather dry and the political aspects tend to dominate the narrative. Only recommended to those who wish to study the subject.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bertrand Mueller on March 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Obviously, the book stresses more the organisational issues (which can be cumbersome) than the technical details of the V2 project. An organigram of the ordnance/ministry/SS would have been helpful, as well as a map of the various sites. Not many technical details, especially on the Wasserfall project (I am not sure I understand by which mean the missile were to hit a plane...). Subjects are not always presented according to their chronological order. No detailed information on the actual devastations caused by the rockets (where, how many, hit rate). Otherwise, it seems that the information is pretty accurate.
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