Flying Man: Hugo Junkers and the Dream of Aviation. By Richard Byers. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2016. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xi, 245. $39.95 ISBN: 978-1-62349-464-3
Dr. Byers is eminently qualified to write a history such as this. A history professor at the University of North Georgia, he specializes in modern European, German, and aviation history. I was excited about reading this book, because Hugo Junkers had designed and flown the world's first all-metal monoplane, and his name was associated with some of the great Luftwaffe airpower of World War II. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm waned quickly.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Hugo Junkers and the Dream of Aviation sounded pretty good. The reader was going to find out what Junkers did that was important to the future and promise of aviation. What one gets, however, is a good history of European--and German in particular--history, economics, and political science in the first half of the twentieth century.
For one who wishes to understand the "military-industrial" complex of the late Imperial, Weimar, and early Nazi eras in Germany, and how it fit in with the economic and political situations brought about by various internal and external pressures (the Versailles Treaty and Great Depression being among the most important), then this is a well-researched and comprehensive history. But for those wishing to learn about the engineering expertise shown by Junkers, the nature of the many patents he held and their influence throughout the aviation community, and the details of his plans for airlines and an aviation world, the book falls woefully short. Unfortunately, I expected much more of the latter.
Byers has done a superb job of research using both primary and secondary resources. It is also obvious that he is very comfortable with the German language. Unfortunately, this leads to a fairly ponderous read. In all of the discussion about the myriad personalities in both government and industry...