End of the Age of Dirigibles

The Hindenburg by Michael M. Mooney

Good heavens to Betsy. Who knew the Hindenburg was so darn fascinating? (OK, I admit it: I’m on a disaster kick. There it is.)

This book is absolutely riveting, which is due not only to the gripping nature of the story, but very much to the writing style of the author. Reading this book was a pleasure, because the sentences and the paragraphs were crafted beautifully. It makes a person just want to hum.

The author tells the story of the people involved in the development and the crash of the Hindenburg. There’s just enough information about the technology to inform those who know little about airships (count me among them—I’m an airplane girl myself), but not so much that things bogged down in detail.

The only shortcoming of this book: It posits simply that a crew member sabotaged the Hindenburg by planting a bomb—and does not address the fact that this is only one possibility and that the cause of the explosion is still uncertain.

I’d not realized that the Hindenburg emerged from Nazi Germany (which would explain the creepy swastikas on its tail—which I never before realized were present). Some of the events surrounding the early days of the Hindenburg are downright chilling: Goebbels insisted on the swastika being placed on the tails of the various Zeppelins, and the Nazis issued a decree banning any mention of the company board chairman’s name in the press, after he offended Hitler with his reluctance to allow the Zeppelins to be used as propaganda tools during the 1936 election.

So add Nazi menace to the overall “this ain’t gonna end well” story, and you’ve got yourself one doozie of a page-turner.