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Last Flight to Stalingrad

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A superbly crafted historical thriller that is brilliantly plotted and immensely atmospheric, Graham Hurley’s Last Flight to Stalingrad is a fascinating tale of war, power and ambition that will keep readers absolutely riveted to the page.

In the early 1940s, countries across Western Europe have had no other choice but to submit to the Nazi’s reign of terror. As county after country had fallen and the Nazi’s domination grew and grew, the Ministry of Propaganda was absolutely overjoyed at the fact that they were capturing more territories and that the Reich continued to prosper. However, winter is setting in, the mood is turning and the Reich’s attention has turned towards the East with Joseph Goeebels leading this charge. Journalist Werner Nehmann can detect a shift in his boss’s moods which only serves to inflame and increase his curiosity. However, Werner will soon learn that getting too close to the fire will only end up with him getting burnt to a crisp all too quickly…

Joseph Goeebels is a master manipulator and his calculated words have shaken Germany alive and cheered the country on to capture greater riches and enjoy even greater successes. He simply cannot allow the mood to falter and see all of his hard work come to nothing when everything had been going so well. But unbeknownst to Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda has begun to get uneasy about him and in desperate need of advice and support confides in Werner about his discomfort, drawing him into a web of deception and power struggles that will see him descend into the hell that is Stalingrad.

Graham Hurley’s Last Flight to Stalingrad is a superb historical thriller written by a talented writer who is at the height of his storytelling powers. A vivid, compelling and mesmerizing tale laced with danger, suspense, action and intrigue where the stakes have never been higher and the tension will send readers’ heart rates soaring through the roof, Graham Hurley’s Last Flight to Stalingrad is historical fiction of the highest order.
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A dark tale, but rather compelling!

The Nazis have been riding high on their successes up until now, but fighting on the eastern front is taking hold and the mood isn't as buoyant. Goebbels is determined not to let the little matter of Russian determination alter his plans and enlists Werner Nehmann, a journalist with the Ministry of Propaganda to help in keeping morale up and convince the German people that things aren't as bad as they seem. As the Nazis chiefs begin a power struggle, Nehmann finds out that playing with them is like playing tig with a rattlesnake . . .

I'm sorry I came to this series so late; I really didn't know much about the German / Russian conflict and feel as if I have learned an awful lot! This is what I would class as 'men's adventure' but it's not all action-packed. The Nazis play a mean game, and it's all here. A riveting tale, and one which kept me glued to the page. Even having studied World War Two at school - something which prompted a lifelong addiction to domestic sagas set at that time - nothing prepared me for the coldness of the characters all of whom are skilfully crafted by the author. A chilling story, with plenty of ups and downs - but are there any winners? A recommended read, and one I'm happy to give four stars.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley; this is - as always - my honest, original and unbiased review.
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Stories like this stand or fall on the quality of the author's research, understanding of the historical events and the ability to weave fact into fiction believably. This story has authenticity, adrenaline-pumping pace, intricate and vivid historical detail, and creates a believable world of atrocity and war that is both addictive and shocking for the reader.

This story explores the power of propaganda from two protagonist perspectives. One a pilot, the other a journalist both with powerful masters. The story that unfolds is an intriguing balance of action and introspection immersing the reader in the story before delivering the horrors of war and the twists of evil minds.

It's a pacy read, harrowingly graphic in parts but it's addictive and stays with you after the last word.

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.
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Like previous books in the series, Last Flight to Stalingrad has two main protagonists – Werner Nehmann and Georg Messner.  Both men occupy positions that place them close to powerful figures in the Third Reich.  In Messner’s case,  it’s Wolfram von Richthofen of the Luftwaffe, and in Nehmann’s case, it’s Joseph Goebbels, head of the Ministry of Propaganda.  Whereas in Finisterre the two storylines took some time to come together, I had no such reservations about Last Flight to Stalingrad. How the two men meet is completely believable and, as they get to know each other, it’s clear they both recognize – based on their different experiences – how badly the war against the Russians is going. Not that the German people would know it from the propaganda they are fed.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book for me was the light it shed on the manipulation of information and power of propaganda.  This made Nehmann a particularly interesting character, especially given his proximity to someone so high up in the Reich.  He knows his survival (and, it transpires, the survival of others close to him) depends on him continuing to prove useful to Goebbels and he has a clear-eyed view of what that involves.

“This was the age of the lie, big or small. Truth filleted for what might be useful and then tossed aside. Deception practiced on the grandest scale. Whole nations, millions of Volk, misled, manipulated, lied to. Nehmann was part of that. He understood the power of the lie, the artful sleight of hand, the dark sorcery that turned black into white, and good into evil. That’s how he’d made his reputation. That’s how he’d won the precious freedoms offered by – yes – the Minister of Lies himself.”

In a particularly compelling episode, Nehmann is tasked with demonstrating the success of German bomber raids on Stalingrad. Taking aerial photographs, he hunts “for the kind of trophy images that might please the author of this wrecked city: huge petroleum tanks on the riverbank, still aflame, their metal carcasses torn apart; a lake of blazing oil drifting slowly down the river, dragging thick coils of smoke that circled slowly upwards in the updraught from the water; a nearby building on the western shore that must have been a hospital, eviscerated by high explosive, dozens of beds plainly visible inside.”

Another memorable scene sees Nehmann and Goebbels working together on a speech Hitler is to give at Berlin’s Sportpalast:

“Nehmann had never liked the Sportpalast. Recently…he’d likened it to something you’d find in Goebbels’ kitchen. It was a cooking pot, he said. It was a favourite utensil you’d fetch out for those special occasions when you wanted to whip up something irresistible to keep everyone happy. You put together the recipe from what you knew and trusted. A little of that intimate frenzy from the Burgerbraukeller days in Munich. Plus a huge helping of spectacle and mass adoration from the Zeppelinfeld at Nuremburg: hanging banners, roving spotlights and a sound system that would put Hitler’s rasp and Goebbels’ chest-thumping roar into every German heart. When the national pulse showed signs of faltering, a couple of deafening hours in the Sportpalast always did the trick. The trick.”

During his work for Goebbels, Nehmann stumbles upon evidence of SS atrocities and in the process makes himself a truly formidable enemy.  A thrilling – and chilling – game of cat and mouse ensues, provoking an uncharacteristically extreme and visceral response from Nehmann.

The author’s impeccable research is evident throughout the book but it never detracts from the pace of the story, instead adding a fantastic sense of authenticity to what is a compelling work of historical fiction.
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Werner Nehmann Is a journalist who has been reporting on the German successes during World War 2 but as progress in the East slows he ends up in the “Hell on Earth” which is Stalingrad

In Last Flight to Stalingrad Graham Hurley has written an absorbing story about Germany in 1942 along with the horrors of Stalingrad which, after a slow start, drew this reader in.

Overall this is an excellent book and one I would recommend
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I have read Graham Hurley’s DI Faraday and enjoyed them greatly. Since then I haven’t really taken much notice of his more recent work until requesting this one via NetGalley. I am glad I did as although it is not a crime novel he made his name with, he has written a very absorbing and vivide novel set in WW2.

Interesting main character Werner Nehmann as he is a journalist writing propaganda for his boss Joseph Goebells. So although he ends up in Stalingrad, he interacts there as a non-combatant. The description of characters, like Goebells and the power struggles within the Third Reich, form a backdrop to the plot and events within the book. The harsh reality of soldiering and the daily struggle to survive in Stalingrad are vividly described.

An impressive novel and recommended for those who enjoy the works of Rory Clements and Philip Kerr.
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Try and imagine you are a German in 1942 being told you are in the winning side, living quite comfortably and working for Joseph Goebbels in the Nazi propaganda machine?

This is the early scene setting for an atmospheric, sad and sometimes brutal WW2 book with Werner Nehmann as the German mentioned above. He has a good relationship with Goebbels but this is tested time and again with trips to the eastern front and the truly awful fighting for Stalingrad.

I cannot praise the author Graham Hurley enough for such excellent atmospheric writing. His characterisations are wonderful - including Geobbels and the other Nazi leaders. The dangerous aircraft flights to and from Russia, Nehmann losing his best friend and his relationship with an Abwehr member Schultz in Stalingrad are all stand out moments.

The fighting for Stalingrad is stark and again shows the futility of war, with the daily struggle for survival. There are lighter moments in the book, though and a little romance!

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I did not like this book and just about stopped after reading the first 30 or so pages.  I continued on thinking I'd give it a bit more time..  I was certainly glad I did finish it!  To me, it had a different "view" and atmosphere than most WW II stories.  The author did a excellent job creating character development in that period of time..  I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone interested in that period of time and place late in WWII.
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Atmospheric and gripping, this novel is both perfectly paced and wonderfully imagined. A revealing novel about propaganda, and the hidden forces at work in the marketing machine of the Third Reich, its chilling portrait of Goebbells, Hitler's propaganda puppet, is especially well realised. Hurley's writing is gripping and wise, his characters fully he creates a vibrant portrait of the realities of working in the Nazi regime.
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Graham Hurley is one of the best and most underrated authors around. I loved his Faraday and Suttle crime series, he has also developed a new heroine in Enorra Andressen with a third book in that series about to be published. This book is his fifth in the Wars Within series - how does he find the time to write so much!

I have read the others and enjoyed this the best as it describes the relationship between Joseph Goebbels the master of propaganda and Werner Nehmann, one of his most talented writers.

What stands out is the stark description of the war on the Eastern front and some of the details will stay long with me given their cruelty and brutality.

Historically accurate and with acute observations of character, time and place this is an excellent historical novel and is highly recommended.
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*Many thanks to Graham Hurley, Head of Zeus and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
This is Book 5 in the series but it can be read as a standalone, as was the case with me, and nothing will disturb following the characters and the narration.
It is 1942, and the Nazi forces are approaching Stalingrad. Werner Nehman writes for the Promi and is close to Goebbels, close enough to be granted a special mission of personal nature. Not completing it in the way he was supposed to have done, his boss sends him over to the East, to write about the war in the Russian steppe. 
This novel was a really good read for me due to the raw descriptions of the battle of Stalingrad and incorporation of some themes such as omnipresent cold, hunger and the atrocities committed by SS in that area. Although I never came to like Werner, I liked the way he observes what is going on around him. He is no saint, and yet he can see what the Germans fail to do. There are some human particles still left in him.
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Blood of the Wolf is the fifth book in Graham Hurley’s Wars Within series but from what I can see doesn’t appear to link to the others plot- or character-wise so there’s no need to read the others first. That said, I enjoyed it and so am now inclined to read the other books in the series.
Just when I think I should lay off reading any more books set in wartime Germany, along comes another that shows me something different, a look at the war experience from a different player’s point of view. It’s 1942 and we follow Werner Nehmann, a Georgian journalist who has adopted a German name and is working under Goebbels in the Reich’s propaganda ministry. Like all good protagonists, Nehmann is no saint but he has his own standards and retains a conscience; unlike some of those around him, his humanity is intact.
The description of conditions on the eastern front and in Stalingrad itself provides a stark indication of the horrors so many lived through for so long; it has made me want to find out more about the siege. The inclusion of real historical figures among the fictional ones works well and inevitably has had me looking them up and adding to my ever-expanding list of books I want to read.
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Excellent story and a gripping pace. First one I have read in this series and I will definitely be reading the others. Well told, great characters and a plot that leave you thinking.
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Blood Of The Wolf is the latest book in Graham Hurley's War's Within series.. Having not read any of the others but having read all of his Faraday and Winter and Jimmy Suttle books I was keen to try something a bit different from Mr Hurley..
Werner Nehmann is enjoying the high life living in Berlin in 1940, he's adopted a German name and living with a fellow Georgian,both enjoying the single man's life. Werner is a journalist working directly with Joseph Goebbels at the Promi, The Ministry of Propaganda. While Germany is winning the war the job is easy  and Werner is the blue-eyed boy of the Promi as his morale-boosting stories are soaked up by the masses.
Goebbels likes Werner and thinking the feeling is mutual asks him to do a favour of a personal nature which Werner rather stupidly tries to use to his advantage and it all begins to unravel. 
As the war progresses and both it and Werner's life no longer go to plan he's sent to Russia to report on Germany's forthcoming glorious defeat of Stalingrad, and most of us know how that turned out.
Along with Werner's eyes being opened and Hurley's excellent depiction of the horrors of the siege of Stalingrad there's the tale of the heroic pilot, Schultz the Abwher friend and the horrific behaviour of the SS amongst other threads of the tale that all come together to make for a very involving read. 
Some of the violence is very explicit and verges into "Silence of the Lambs" territory, needing a strong stomach on the part of the reader .
A very good read that shows the madness of war,and the descent into it by some of the participants,,explores friendship and loyalty and much else . Great characters and an involving story , I'll definitely be reading the other books in the series.

Thanks to Graham Hurley, Head of Zeus Books and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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The setting is Berlin, Germany in 1942. We are introduced to Werner Nehmann, a journalist at the Promi - the Ministry of Propaganda. For 4 years he has documented the victories of the Wehrmacht as it conquered country after country. Werner's boss is Joseph Goebbels who treats him as a close confidant. Goebbels can't forget his lover Czech actress Lída Baarová and his relationship with her which was ended by Adolf Hitler who ordered Goebbels to stay with is wife Magda. 
Still in love with Lida, Goebbels entrusts Werner with a letter which he takes to Italy, but is unable to deliver it due to the intervention of one of Goebbels' enemies in the Nazi hierarchy.
 Werner makes the mistake of keeping the letter as a form of insurance. His boss takes his revenge, sending him to report on the Battle of Stalingrad. Both men are aware that the course of the war and the mood of the German people are changing. but Goebbels has to ensure that the German people's morale remains strong. In his mind what is called for is "Totaler Krieg"(Total War).
Meanwhile, Werner discovers the real truth about war on the Eastern Front. 
Although the fighting in and around Stalingrad is described in bloody detail, the description of civilian killings by the SS Einsatzgruppen are truly horrific. (The Einsatzgruppen were paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany that were responsible for mass killings, primarily by shooting, during World War II. Almost all of the people they killed were civilians.)
The author effortlessly captures the atmosphere of a major battle as it descends into the uttermost depths of Hell. His description of a bombing raid on Stalingrad and subsequent dog fight between German and Russian fighter planes is so realistic it's as if you're there. Likewise the depiction of the freezing conditions on the Russian front as German soldiers reach a point where their frostbitten fingers can no longer fit inside the trigger guards of their rifles rendering their guns useless.
One front line soldier interviewed by Nehmann sums up the battle: "The killing in this city never takes time off." Sickened by the violence of the Einsatzgruppen, Werner plots revenge on one particular SS officer.
 This is not your run of the mill war story. Throughout its pages, we learn intimate details of the Nazi elite -  particularly those of Josef Goebbels - as they compete for Hitler's favour and ways to increase their power. The author's research is meticulous and the historical fiction and facts merge seamlessly. Although the book starts slowly, it soon becomes an absolutely gripping read. Highly recommended.

Note: .This is the 5th in Graham Hurley's "Wars Within" series and can be read as a stand-alone. 
My thanks to the publishers Head of Zeus and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in return for an unbiased review.
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