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Danny S Parker's Peiper biography.

Discussion in 'Biographies and Everything Else' started by Martin Bull, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

    Jun 20, 2002
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    London, England.
    'Hitler's Warrior - The Life and Wars Of SS Colonel Jochen Peiper' by Danny S Parker ( Da Capo Press ISBN 978-0-306-82154-7 ).

    I'll come straight out and say this - I found this book very disappointing indeed. So much so that I wasn't going to post a review.......

    I have all the other stuff about Peiper (Agte : apologist. Westemeier : derogatory. Whiting : hero-worship. Etc). I greatly admire Danny Parker's work on the Bulge over the years and when I read in the preface to 'Fatal Crossroads' that that book developed from a 17-year project on Peiper's life I was keen to see the result (although at the same time, wondering why the key incident in Peiper's life had been extrapolated).

    And that's the case. To use a Bulge analogy, this book seems a bit like a doughnut with a hole in the centre - the Malmedy Massacre. But, it does include lengthy discussion of the Dachau trial - which I felt would have been better included in the earlier book.

    What's worse to me is that it doesn't really read like a book at all. Very quickly, it feels as if it has been written in parts over a long time and then hastily pasted together. Maybe I'm wrong - but for instance, Himmler's lover Hedwig Potthast is introduced with biographical dtails in Chapter 2. And then introduced all over again two chapters later, which gives the reader an odd 'deja vu' feeling. Later in the book 'Lombard' is casually mentioned ( leaving me scratching my head - the name seemed familiar ) and then a page later he is reintroduced to us - twice in one sentence......

    All in all, proofreading and editing seems to have gone haywire or even been omitted ( you'd almost think a different author wrote this to 'Crossroads' which flows smoothly and is well-constructed ). Also, the selection of photos is rather paltry - especially as the text keeps referring to 'such-and-such well-known photo' ( which I had to turn to my copies of Agte or Westemeier to view ).

    A load of rubbish, then ? Well, no. Which is what makes it all so frustrating. The amount of research put in by the author is really comprehensive (a third of the book is taken up by notes).He has also interviewed many survivors over theyears, and has gained access to other authors' unused interview notes. There is so much here of interest - the lifestyle of Himmler's 'inner circle' is especially well described, for instance, and many SS characters such as Max Wunsche and Heinz von Westernhagen appear with career information I haven't seen elsewhere.

    And somehow, in amongst all this source material, Peiper as a person seems to recede from the foreground.

    So - the book told me many things I didn't know ; but not necessarily about its' subject. There is much of interest here - but I found it quite hard work to plough through.

    This is actually the most difficult review I've put online - I feel as though I'm being disprespectful to someone I admire very much ( the author, not the subject ! ). Then again, the above is my opinion, and I'm no academic.

    The definitive Peiper book is yet to be written - if indeed it ever can be.
    belasar and Kai-Petri like this.
  2. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

    Nov 20, 2012
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    The Arid Zone
    That's too bad. Perhaps his new info will stir the pot for someone else to write that definitive bio.
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Jul 31, 2002
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    Thanx Martin for the true view of the book. Seems like parts of it are worth checking but not about Peiper.
  4. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Dec 2, 2014
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    The Land of the Noble Steed
    Peiper is one of the figures of the war that I have always wanted to read about. I once saw a book that was supposed to be a biography on him, but when I looked through it most of it was about what he did during the Bulge. There wasn't much about his pre war or post war life. Cannot remember the name of the book though. :unsure:
  5. FalkeEins

    FalkeEins Member

    Oct 24, 2006
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    the trouble with books that take 20 years to put together is (IMVHO) that the author wants to cram every last piece of research into it, whether or not it really adds to the story. This then leaves the editor/publisher with the problem of which bits to chop out. I did read (an amazon reviewer who had been in touch with the author IIRC) that an entire chapter's worth of material had to go...

    at least the book has the merit of existing ..I know a few would-be authors who are still compiling their works 25 years later with no sign of publication any nearer!!

    thanks for the review Martin..
  6. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

    May 9, 2010
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    I feel your pain Martin, I'm slogging through 'A Democracy At War' which I am finding very vexing despite the hope I had for it.

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