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Harvey Black

with 15 comments

Hi folks.

Today I’m going to direct your attention to another writer of historical fiction. This one, however, writes a little different from the people I’ve steered my friends & readers towards previously. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m so heavily-based in Rome and the ancient world that I can barely even think in terms of anything after the end of Byzantium and that the modern world gives me a faint case of the heeby jeebies.

I’ve recently expanded my reading outside the confines of the empire, however, taking in the viking writings of Giles Kristian and the brutal Robin Hoodiness of Angus Donald (both of whom I will be revisiting soon, so watch this space.) The furthest from my comfort zone, though, has to be Harvey Black.

I bumped into Harvey courtesy of twitter (where I have to admit that I’m considerably more prolific than I am here, though no less daft.) Through our nodding acquaintance and off the cuff, so to speak, I bought Harvey’s first book, Devils With Wings.

No, this is no Stephanie Meyer-esque sucky gothy horror work. Nor is it about moths, which, my mother tries to convince me are said Devils. No. Devils with Wings, in fact, is as far removed from the doom-ridden Twiglet series as it is from my normal comfort zone. It is, in fact, a novel about the Fallschirmjäger, the elite Green Devils paratroop regiment of the German military in the Second World War.

Given everything you know about me, here’s the big surprise, then. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it enough that I’ll happily recommend it to you guys. Moreover, I enjoyed it enough that I have the sequel: Silk Drop, sitting next up in my pile of books to read.

To entice you, I give you first: Imagery…

 Devils with Wings: Silk Drop: The Green Devils' Invasion of Crete

And I give you description of the first novel:

From the blurb:

A military thriller based around the adventures of two young Fallschirmjager paratroopers during the early part of World War II. It is a fictionalised adventure based on the famous assault on the impregnable Belgian Fortress, Eben Emael.

Tall, gangly Paul Brand is supported by his junior sergeant, Unterfeldwebel Max Grun, as he experiences his first action as a platoon commander in Poland, September 1939. The mutual respect between the two comrades grows as they experience the sights and smells of battle at close quarters Following their success in Poland, Paul, Max and the platoon are sent to a clandestine camp in the foothills of the Harz Mountains to train for a secret mission.

Confined to camp for six months they undergo intensive training for their next mission – the subjugation of the Eben Emael Fortress. Two German secret weapons will assist them to complete their task; the first is the glider, used for the first time to deposit troops directly onto a target, and the second secret weapon is a new Hollow Charge Weapon, capable of blasting through steel or concrete. On completion of their training, nine gliders containing seventy two Fallschirmjager land on top of the fortress, before the troops move in to the depths of the tunnels to finish the job.

Over one thousand Belgian troops fail to stop them. This exciting fictionalised retelling of the assault on Eben Emael is written by an author with experience in army intelligence.

And in my own words: Devils with Wings is a tight story with some very engaging characters, packed with action and adventure, telling  the events that surrounded the first strike of Germany into the western front, in Belgium. It is an event about which I had previously no knowledge and therefore was new and interesting. For me, the high point is the tense approach to the main mission in rickety gliders. More to come on that. I fear there may be some out there who would be put off by the fact that this is a story of a German wartime unit. To you, I would say, Pah! Do not be. We are all aware that, despite that diminutive psycopath with the oily hair and ‘tache and his close cadre of genocidal knobheads, there were a number of men and women in wartime Germany that were not murder loving Nazis but rather real, ordinary people with a job to do, with families, dreams and aspirations and, yes, honour. This story is about them and Harvey deserves, I think, a certain respect for telling such a tale. Finishing Devils With Wings merely made me want to read Silk Drop.

And thirdly, Click HERE to read an extract in PDF format of my favourite part of the book (short enough to browse now, I tell you!)

Fourthly, I shall barrage you with a selection of appropriate links, on the understanding, and in the knowledge, that you will click at least two and peruse them, or my hords of flying plasma-cannon monkeys will seek you out and fling poo at you.

1: Amazon’s page on Harvey, with appropriate links to both his books: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Harvey-Black/e/B001KCG3DK/

2. Harvey’s website (on which today – Saturday 10th March – you will find a storming blog about Berlin during the cold war, Harvey’s era of service):  http://www.harveyblackauthor.com/

3: A page on the Fallschirmjäger to satisfy the needs of fact-a-holics:  http://www.fallschirmjager.net/

And finally, and only to save them for a grand finale, here are three promo videos for you to have an ogle at:

Written by SJAT

March 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Posted in WW2

Tagged with , , , , , , , , ,

15 Responses

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  1. Those videos look Familiar! I wonder what clever chap made them!?



    March 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    • Some bloke from Rochester, I believe. Likes his beer



      March 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm

  2. Secrect training camp in the Harz fotthills – heh, what is it about the popularity of the Harz with English writers? First Doug and now this guy …. 🙂

    Not that I can blame them; it’s a great landscape and full of history. Though there was no Fallschirmjäger training site as far as I know, those were further east, near Berlin and Magdeburg. But then, if it was clandestine … *grin*



    March 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    • God alone knows how many camps they had, not just the FSJ, but all the military. They find new sites every year, much like they do with Roman camps.



      March 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      • And Roman battlefields. There’s one of those in the Harz, of all places. 🙂



        March 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    • @ Gabriele – Fallschirmjäger-Pionierzug “Granit” was trained in Hildesheim (which is in the Harz) from November 1939 onwards. Best wishes, Rob



      March 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      • OK, if you interprest ‘Harz foothills’ very generously. 🙂

        There’s a big badass bunker near Halberstadt which is in the Harz, but that one was only completed in 1944 and thus too late for our paratroopers.



        March 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      • Die Interpretation ist 1:1 vom Tourismus-Verband der Stadt Hildesheim übernommen 😉



        March 22, 2012 at 12:14 am

  3. Clips can only be by that famous producer, what’s his name….? Ah Spielberg, no!! Nick Britten.



    March 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

  4. They spent 6 months in the foothills of the Harz mountains to complete their training for the mission. They weren’t allowed to wear their paratrooper uniforms or wear badges of rank. They had to sign a a document stating, ‘I am aware that I shall risk sentence of death should I, by intent or carelessness, make known to another person by spoken word or illustration anything concerning the base at which I am serving.’

    The gliders were secret and were moved around in furniture vans. The hollow charge weapons were so secret, they didn’t get to use them on bunkers or turrets until the mission itself. Ay practices were done on the ground.



    March 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    • I guess it would have been the eastern part of the Harz foothills then, since the bases connected with them (according to a quick google, I’m definitely not a WW2 specialist) were Stendal, Döberitz and Altengrabow, and they’re all further east.

      I’ll keep my eyes up next time I’m in the eastern part of the Harz. Usually I’m hunting Romans and Ottonian / Salian emperors, but who knows, I may find a paratrooper cave. too. 🙂



      March 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm

  5. I have just purchased both of Harvey Black’s books for my husband’s birthday and know he will be absolutely thrilled! I also take my hat off to the amazing video ‘chap’ – great job!



    March 11, 2012 at 7:22 am

  6. Good timing for me, Si! I got really interested in WWII Germany last year. We’re all (rightly so) apalled at Hitler’s Nazi Germany. But as the layers begin to peel away, it’s evident that not everyone had the same insanity as Hitler. We shouldn’t forget: It was demoralization of Germany (the aftermath of WWI) that allowed Hitler to launch into power. Have you read ‘WHAT NOW, LITTLE MAN?’ (‘Kleiner Mann, vas nun?’ by Hans Fallada)? A Jewish professor who was in WWII told me I very much needed to read it. Written in early 1920’s, between the wars. I give local college kids $5 to read it. $10 if they’re stubborn. So, I will get these books! Thanks! Jules



    March 23, 2012 at 3:41 am

    • People are generally still people, aren’t they? Very few are actually monsters.



      March 23, 2012 at 8:46 am

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