An incisive analysis of a woman caught up in evil, this viscerally realistic novel about a Nazi test pilot is loosely based on the life of Third Reich heroine Hanna Reitsch (1912-1979).
Obsessed with flying since childhood, blonde, blue-eyed Frederika Kurtz defies her disapproving physician father and becomes a glider pilot, rising to chief test pilot for Hitler's air force.
Boldly making her way in a man's world, Frederika, because of her gender, as well as her exceptional abilities, becomes something of a celebrity, and meets many of the leading figures in the Nazi party, including Hitler and Himmler. He is repelled by the Nazis' brutality, yet captivated by what she perceives as their idealistic commitment to Germany's regeneration. She tests a piloted version of the V-1 rocket and consorts with top Nazi officials, including a general who commits suicide after his tendered resignation is refused.
Visiting the Russian front, Frederika witnesses civilian women stripped naked and gassed to death in an SS van. Realizing she has made a pact with the devil, she takes sick leave and becomes an ambulance worker in Germany. Her live-in lesbian love affair with a divorced neighbor ends when the woman, whose Communist father was killed in a Nazi prison camp, walks out, fearful of endangering Frederika.
As the novel closes, Frederika, whisked away to Hitler's bunker, watches the Fuhrer and Eva Braun during their final, madness-filled days, then narrowly escapes.