Like so many of his fellow Germans, Martin Poppel joined the Luftwaffe of the Third Reich in a haze of patriotic fervour and fresh from the Hitler Youth.
Marked out by his Labour Service department leader as 'something out of the ordinary' he became a fallschirmjager, a paratrooper, eager for war and buoyed by Germany's recent invasion of Czechoslovakia.
But he was not to remain so idealistic. In Heaven and Hell, Poppel describes his war at the spearhead of the Wehrmacht, a deeply personal book from a man who was there from beginning to end: Poland 1939, Holland and Narvik 1940, Crete 1941, Russia 1941-3, Sicily and Southern Italy 1943, Normandy 1944, Holland and the lower Rhine 1945; and then a PoW following his capture by the 6th Airborne Division.
It charts his journey from an eager young soldier desperate for action, to a war-weary veteran whose only ambition (as a company commander at the age of 22) was to bring his men home safely.
A singular record of one man's experiences of the Second World War, it is a searing and honest account of a bloody conflict and acknowledged as a classic memoir.