The fourth chapter of Clive James's book, Fame, is now online. An excerpt:
The war was as big as the world, and far too complicated to follow unless it was dramatized into a battle between good and evil. Nazi Germany was a rich source of villainous leading characters, quite apart from Hitler himself. Before the war, Hermann Goering had played a complicated role as the second man in Germany. Hitler, who suffered from no vices except an overdeveloped taste for cream cakes and mass murder, had looked austere and dedicated beside Goering, a conspicuous consumer of fine wines and other people’s property. Goering thought that he could divert attention from his weight problem by designing his own uniforms. It was a miscalculation on a massive scale. But Goering knew his way around a country estate, and this had fooled some of Europe’s more clueless aristocrats into believing that despite his regrettable fondness for building concentration camps he might be a civilizing influence on Hitler. Now the gloves were off and Goering had emerged as a simple roly-poly figure of fun. British newsreels helped the gag along with specially edited Fatty Hermann compilations plus comic voice-over. When Goering’s much publicized Luftwaffe failed to beat the RAF, even the Germans got the joke. On the rare occasions when the Gestapo wasn’t listening, ordinary Germans called Goering ‘Meyer’, ironically commemorating the moment when he had assured his countrymen that no enemy aircraft would ever appear over Germany, or else his name was Meyer.