Below is a review I did for Amazon on a book titled Devils with Wings by Harvey Black.
I do read some historical fiction but for the most part that’s limited to ancient Rome and Dark Ages themes so to step out and read a WW2 historical novel was just a little out my genre.
The attraction was the subject matter and the fact it’s written by a fellow blogger with an interest in military history. It was well worth my departure from my usual niche.
The subject matter is reflected in the title of book, Devils with Wings. The “devils” in question refers to early WW2 German paratroops who earned the nickname Grune Teufels (Green Devils) for their daring do attack on Eben Emael, a Belgian fortress, in 1940. Seventy-two paratroops used gliders to land right on top of this formidable fortress which covered the river crossings separating the Low Countries (Belgium and Holland) from the invading Germans.
It was a remarkable feat that has much in common with what modern-day special forces are trained to do. (Think stealth helicopters landing on top of Bin Laden in Pakistan.)
The fact that the devils were called green is a reference to the distinctive color of their jump smocks, a color different from the field gray of the regular German Army. German paratroops were in fact part of the German Air Force or Luftwaffe.
The devils (teufel) name was given to them because of their fighting abilities. As elite troops they were highly trained and professional soldiers whose fighting spirit made them appear fiercely devilish in the eyes of their opponents. The Belgians, while brave, simply did not have the training of the Fallschirmjagers and they were stunned by the surprise of it all.
The Green Devils went on to fight in Greece and Crete. Crete was the first large-scale assault by a parachute division and is the subject of Harvey’s next book in the series, Silk Drop.
Harvey’s third book in the series is titled Frozen Sun and deals with the Green Devils action around Leningrad during the German war with Russia.
I am looking forward to continuing the series.
Below is the review.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking good read, September 11, 2012
Bruce Roeder (Oak Creek, WI, USA) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Devils with Wings: The Green Devils Assault on Fort Eben Emael (Paperback)
One of my British friends likes to say that a book is a “cracking good read.” I like that although as an American don’t know where the expression comes from.
Harvey Black’s Devils with Wings is a cracking good read although I must admit, I was put off at first by editing issues. Having said that, I found that the story overcame the editing issues.
While the book is about the famous Fallschirmjagers it focuses on the comradeship of Lt. Brand and Sgt. Grun and in this first novel the men in their platoon.
The thrust of the story is the assault on the Belgian fortress of Eben Emael, an assault that would prove the value of small elite units and what they could accomplish.
Here’s some things I appreciated about the book.
1) It’s about ordinary German soldiers, albeit elite ones and not Nazi fanatics,
2) The book gives credit to their enemies and recognizes them as fellow soldiers just doing their job.
3) The friendships and camaraderie that soldiers from all nations can appreciate.
4) Violent because war is, but not unnecessarily so for shock effect. Same for the language.
5) Good detail for anyone geeky like me who likes to know the paratroops are armed with 98K carbines and MG 34s that fire 600 rounds per minute. It was also interesting to see what the garrison of Eben Emael was armed with, that is 75mm and 120mm artillery, 60mm AA and so forth.
6) Good character development where you get to the point about caring what happens to these guys.
I have the sequel on my wish list.