Boëtius, Henning. The Phoenix: A Novel About the Hindenburg . Doubleday. Dec 2001. c320p. tr. from German by John Cullen. ISBN 0-385-50183-8. $24.95. Fiction.

In this new novel from German author Boëtius, the Hindenburg disaster is viewed through the lives of two men. Edmund Boysen, a sailor and airship helmsman, is piloting the Zeppelin when it crashes at Lakehurst, NJ., in May 1937 but miraculously escapes unharmed. Birger Lund, a journalist working on a biography of Queen Christina of Sweden, also survives but is presumed dead. Later horribly burned in a car accident, he assumes a new identity after reconstructive surgery and ten years later tracks down Boysen in order to confirm his theory of what actually brought the Hindenburg down. None of the five explanations proposed by the investigative commission at the time turns out to be right; the truth involves Nazi politics. Technical details ranging from burn treatment to the principles of lighter-than-air flight are nicely integrated into this intelligent narrative, which also contains the love story of Boysen and his wife-to-be, Irene. Boëtius, whose father was at the controls of the Hindenburg that night and was the last surviving member of the crew, has written a compelling story of one of the great disasters of the 20th century, making the novel eerily relevant today. Recommended for all public libraries.

LJ, vol. 126, no. 18 (November 1, 2001), 131.

Contact Information at