BOOK REVIEW | The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler

REVIEW | The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler (1964)
by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel
Book Review by Mark David Major

“An enormous success upon its original publication in 1964, The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler (with Foreword by Roger Moorhouse) investigates the July 20, 1944, bombing of Hitler’s infamous Wolf’s Lair, a conspiracy led by Colonel von Stauffenberg, a staff insider with access to the Führer. The first book to reveal the truth about the now infamous Operation Valkyrie, The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler is “one of the most readable stories ever written about the war” (Sunday Times). This classic is an exciting and shocking tale of modern sabotage packed with first-hand information about Stauffenberg’s tragic failed attempt on Hitler’s life. Written when those involved were still alive and testifying, Manvell and Fraenkel’s account is the most powerful and candid telling of the near-miss assassination of Hitler ever written.”

Originally published in 1964, The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel appears to be the principal (and uncredited) source material for the script of the excellent Tom Cruise (2008) film Valkyrie directed by Bryan Singer. You know a book is good when: 1) it takes me less than 5 days to read it; and, 2) the endnotes are equally fascinating as the main text (throwing up delicious nuggets of information like in the immediate aftermath of surviving the assassination attempt, Hitler’s main concern seemed to be the bombing had ruined his new trousers). This is a really good book with excellent pacing and what appears to be thorough research relying on primary sources and eyewitnesses to actual events. In the endnotes, the authors rightly focus attention on what appeared to be crux of the matter for the success or (ultimate) failure of Operation Valkyrie on July 20, 1944, which is what General Fellgiebel did or did not do at the Wolf’s Lair in the first few minutes after the explosion and Colonel von Stauffenberg’s departure to the airport to return to Berlin. My only real criticism of this book (which frequently occurs with historical research about specific events) is there were so many players involved in the July 20th plot and its aftermath, that some kind of better visual aid (more photographs, an organizational chart, etc.) would have been helpful to the reader in order to better understand who was who and where they fit into the story. Mark’s Grade: 4.5 stars


The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler (1964)
by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel
Foreword by Roger Moorhouse
Paperback, English, 272 pages
Originally Published in 1964; Skyhorse Publishing Edition (October 17, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1602393583
ISBN-13: 978-1602393585

Purchase The Men Who Tried to Kill Hitler on Amazon here.

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