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The Phoenix: A Novel About the Hindenberg Hardcover – December 26, 2001

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 1937 Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, N.J., has been the subject of numerous books, several feature films and countless rumors. The mystery of the horrific zeppelin fire that claimed 35 lives is resurrected in this dark and brooding story about a survivor obsessed with finding out the cause of the catastrophe. Boetius, a popular German author, is also the son of one of the survivors of the Hindenburg and was raised on his father's stories of the event. The powerful tale he crafts here tells of a man who rises from the Hindenburg's ashes, equipped with a new face, a new identity and a new purpose in life. Birger Lund is a passenger on the Hindenburg's last flight across the Atlantic in May 1937. He miraculously survives the crash and fire, assumes the identity of a dead passenger and spends 10 years doggedly searching for answers to the questions of how and why. His search ends in 1947 when he finally locates one of the surviving airship officers Nazi enthusiast Edmund Boysen, the man at the zeppelin's controls when the crash occurred by tracking him to a sinister, isolated island in the North Sea. Boetius tells this story through both men, cleverly exploring the theories of what caused the disaster: natural lightning activity, crew or passenger carelessness and the more ominous one of sabotage. Anti-Nazis, the Gestapo, secret agents and some other unusual travelers on the passenger list add great drama and suspense. Boetius has created an original plot peopled with intensely realized characters, set against a vivid backdrop of prewar politics and the romance of zeppelin flight. (Dec. 26)Forecast: Boetius's personal tie to the Hindenburg debacle should spark curiosity, and the powerful, understated jacket design will help the book stand out on display tables.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this new novel from German author Bo?tius, the Hindenburg disaster is viewed through the lives of two men. Edmund Boysen, a sailor and airship helmsman, is piloting the Zeppelin when it crashes at Lakehurst, NJ, in May 1937 but miraculously escapes unharmed. Birger Lund, a journalist working on a biography of Queen Christina of Sweden, also survives but is presumed dead. Later horribly burned in a car accident, he assumes a new identity after reconstructive surgery and ten years later tracks down Boysen in order to confirm his theory of what actually brought the Hindenburg down. None of the five explanations proposed by the investigative commission at the time turns out to be right; the truth involves Nazi politics. Technical details ranging from burn treatment to the principles of lighter-than-air flight are nicely integrated into this intelligent narrative, which also contains the love story of Boysen and his wife-to-be, Irene. Boetius, whose father was at the controls of the Hindenburg that night and was the last surviving member of the crew, has written a compelling story of one of the great disasters of the 20th century, making the novel eerily relevant today. Recommended for all public libraries.
- Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; 1st edition (December 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385501838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385501835
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,387,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Charles P. de Young on February 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book reminds me of "The Count of Monte Cristo", not because it has anyting to do with the period or theme, but because of the richness of plot and character. The plot has the driving force to get the book somewhere, and the characters have more than enough power to make the trip enjoyable. There is much of interest about airships here, and also complex human relationships, all set in a time of turmoil. Very well written and produced. Top grade stuff!
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Format: Hardcover
Though I didn't like the ending (don't ask me why)I believe it is a good reading. There was a feeling of reading a Cain or Chandler or Hammett novel.
I wonder if the average reader went through all the scientific details?
BTW, an earlier critic comments the title of the book (the Hindenberg was not a phoenix, etc.) Who said the title is about the ship and not about the principal character? A book should be read up to the end before doing a critic...
An historical novel makes you learn a lot, but it is hard to distinguish facts from fiction. Maybe an appendix in this book would have helped? And watch the philosophical ideas in it!
Yes, I do recommend the book to anybody interested, maybe only vaguely like me, by this Titanic of the air.
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Format: Paperback
In 1937 the crash of the airship Hindenberg in a spectacular blaze heralded the end of the era of Zeppelin travel and the beginning of the true age of the aeroplane. This story follows the quest of one of the survivors of the crash to work out what really destroyed the great airship.

The start of this book appears to have next to nothing to do with airships, but stick with it through the first section and you will end up with a story which follows the last flight of the Hindenberg and its end and an interesting theory as to what caused it.

The author has built on knowledge of the Hindenberg gained from his father who was the elevator man on the doomed ship - and the phoenix in the title of the book is NOT the airship but the narrator of the story for whom the ship was both an end and a beginning.

If you enjoy novels that feature airships this book along with ZEPPELIN by Ronald Florence are both highly reccomended to give a genuine flavor to a lost and elegent form of travel.

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Format: Hardcover
While the Hindenburg, like the Phoenix of myth, did in fact perish in fiery death, it did not rise again from its own ashes reborn. Some would say that this rebirth part is the essential - defining, even - trait of the Phoenix. For this reason alone I cannot recommend this book.
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