THE KNIGHT, DEATH AND THE DEVIL by Ella Leffland

THE KNIGHT, DEATH AND THE DEVIL

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A long (720-page), chilling biographical novel featuring Nazi Germany's infamous Hermann Goring, by the author of Rumors of Peace (1979) and Last Courtesies and Other Stories (1980). Leffland's formidable talents as a fiction writer enhance this thoroughly researched portrait of the marshal of the Third Reich, shedding the sharpest possible light on this paradoxical character and his times. Abandoned to distant relatives from infancy until age three, Goring went on to spend a glorious childhood in an ancient castle maintained by his mother's lover, an aristocratic Jew. Rejecting his weak-willed father and adopting the castle's historical roots as his own, Goring grew up reckless and handsome, a natural warrior who signed up as a flying ace during WW I. After the war Goring soon attached himself to would-be revolutionary Adolf Hitler, finding himself instinctively drawn to the provincial little man's uncanny power as a speaker. As Hitler's right-hand man throughout the rise of the Nazi Party and WW II, Goring was adored as Germany's quintessential Siegfried with his hearty appetite, his love of the hunt, and his deeply romantic soul. Goring's descent into obesity, addiction to morphine and a life of suffocating ritual is detailed with a sure and perceptive vision. Leffland wisely avoids sensationalism as she conveys the Nazi leaders' ability matter-of-factly to order the murder of six million Jews while remaining much more engrossed in their passionate bids for the Fuhrer's favor and in various romantic intrigues. Set against a background of such horrifying haute-bourgeois banality, the suicide scenes in Hitler's bunker and in Goring's prison cell stand out in lurid detail, leaving the reader shocked and, finally, mercifully released. Undeniably overlong, but a memorable, remarkable achievement, nonetheless.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1989
Publisher: Morrow