Geoffrey Brooks

Geoffrey Brooks was born in Olney, Buckinghamshire in 1944 and became interested in foreign languages while at school, winning various prizes for language-related school competitions. After initially working in insurance, his literary career began in 1992 with the publication of his books on military history. Shortly afterwards he was given the opportunity to translate books on this subject from German into English. To date he has translated almost forty books and published three of his own works. Geoffrey Brooks is now a pensioner and lives with his family in Buenos Aires.


Three questions to Geoffrey Brooks

Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?

Although I won the school prize in modern languages in 1960 for teaching myself German and obtaining the highest grade of all scholars that year, I did not obtain the necessary qualifications for University to study for the profession of translator. In any case I considered the competition for the few openings too strong and eventually I took up insurance auditing for a career. I had been very impressed by the standard of translation for the English version of Wolfgang Ott's fictionalised version of his U-boat career Sharks and Little Fishes (publ. c.1960) and harboured a desire to attempt a translation of similar quality, but it was not until 1985 that I found Wolfgang's Hirschfeld's Feindfahrten (Neff Verlag, Wien 1982), a book which suited my purposes. Hirschfeld and I worked together on producing the English version which appeared as Hirschfeld in 1996 (Pen & Sword Books). My first book as author, Hitler's Nuclear Weapons, (Pen & Sword Books 1992) had been seen by London publisher Mr Lionel Leventhal, who invited me to submit a specimen translation and offered me a large number of translations from then onwards.
Which German book do you like the best and why?

I have no favourite book as such and do not like fiction. I have favourite parts in many German non-fiction books to which I often refer.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?

I have the Spanish language version of the book El ultimo viaje del Conde von Spee (Argentine Navy, Buenos Aires 1927). The German title was Graf Spees letzte Fahrt, which was published in 1924 in Leipzig. The Spanish version does not supply details of the original. The author was Korvettenkapitän Hans Pochhammer, the most senior German officer surviving the Battle of the Falklands in 1914 as First Officer of the armoured cruiser Gneisenau. He describes in the most enchanting detail the voyage of the squadron from Tsingtau in China in July 1914 to the reunion of the German survivors at Port Stanley in December 1914. Besides his wonderful account of the battles at Coronel and the Falklands, this is a very important document for historians, particularly with regard to German, British and Argentine history. Perhaps some publisher will consider the 100th anniversary of the battle in 2014 the time to bring out the translation with a few helpful footnotes.

Selection of translated titles

  • Christa Schröder: He was my chief : the memoirs of Adolf Hitler's secretary (Er war mein Chef). Frontline Books, 2009
  • Helmut Blocksdorf: Hitler's secret commandos (Das Kommando der Kleinkampfverbände der Kriegsmarine). Pen & Sword Military, 2008
  • Michael Müller: Canaris : the life and death of Hitler's spymaster (Canaris). Chatham Publ., 2007
  • Mario R. Dederichs: Heydrich : the face of evil (Heydrich). Greenhill Books, 2006
  • Gerhard Koop: German destroyers of World War II (Die deutschen Zerstörer 1935 - 1945). Greenhill Books, 2003