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