It is conventional wisdom in the publishing industry that, despite the old adage, readers do indeed judge books by their covers. So, it seems, do passengers on the No. 29 bus. For a middle-aged man reading Clare Mulley’s The Women Who Flew for Hitler, some of the looks I got made me so uncomfortable that I took to hiding the cover behind a newspaper.
So let’s get one thing straight from the beginning: this is not a niche book for Third Reich enthusiasts, nor a seedy excuse to fantasise about women in Nazi uniforms. Do not be put off by the awful title: it is in fact a serious double biography of two of the most remarkable women in the history of aviation.
The first of Mulley’s subjects, and the more famous of the two, is Hanna Reitsch.