Tag Archives: Military Intelligence

WOLVES AT THE DOOR – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleWolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s
Greatest Female Spy
AuthorJudith Pearson
PublisherLyons Press (May 13, 2008)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Paperback, Hardcover
Pages288
LanguageEnglish
AudienceHistorians, People who like suspense and thrillers
ISBN # 10/13159921072X / 978-1599210728

AUTHOR

Judith Pearson is a remarkable woman. She graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in French and English. She continued her post graduate studies in Psychology. She is the founder of Courage Concepts, an organization dedicated to cultivating courage in women and girls. In 2012 she was an International Book Award Finalist for It’s Just Hair: 20 Essential Life Lessons. After her breast cancer diagnosis, she founded A2ndAct.org, an organization that supports and celebrates women survivors of all kinds of cancer. She is still very active conducting keynotes and workshops, not to mention writing. She currently lives in Phoenix (that just seems fitting).

SYNOPSIS

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is the true tale of Virginia Hall. Virginia lost her leg as a young woman in a hunting accident. Virginia always wanted to work for the Foreign Service. In 1929, at the age of only twenty-three, she applied for a consular position with the State Department. She finally received a job as a clerk with the State Department in 1931. She was told that because of her amputation, she was unfit to be a Consular.

At the outbreak of WWII, she enlisted in the Services Sanitaires de l’Armée, a Red Cross type of organization. She drove an ambulance outside of Paris. After France capitulated, she made her way back to England. On the way she had a chance encounter with George Bellows. He provided her with names and places in London that would eventually change her life forever.

Vera Atkins, an acquaintance of Bellow’s, met Virginia at a party in London. Unbeknownst to Virginia at the time, she was recruiting for the “Inter-Services Research Bureau.” This is where Virginia was enticed to work for the British as a spy. She attended a compressed spy training program; learning how to do such things as making bombs and planting explosives. Her leg was not seen as a detriment but a plus as most people wouldn’t think a one-legged woman is a spy.

Virginia went to France where worked tirelessly recruiting for the resistance, sabotaging German supply lines, and creating havoc whenever and wherever she could. She became such a thorn in the Germans side that they actively hunted her and offered rewards for her capture. She was forced to move constantly to stay ahead of the German spy’s that were tracking her. England tried to get her to return as the dangers were too great. She continued fighting for France. Eventually, the Gestapo forced her to flee for her life by making a perilous journey over the Pyrenees Mountains; not an easy feat for a woman with one leg.

Back in England she was assigned to the OSS. They sent Virginia back to France disguised as an old woman. Her limp accentuated the disguise. Virginia continued her work against the Germans until the end of WWII.

CONCLUSION

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is a very good book. It details the life of Virginia Hall and her contributions to the war effort. Virginia is a remarkable woman with a dedication and drives that far exceeds the average man.

Judith Pearson does an excellent job of describing the events, the feelings, and the suspense that Virginia endured. The story is remarkable in its own right, but Judith brings an element to the tale that makes this a must-read book. Full of danger, suspense, intrigue, and sorrow; this story is one that must be told. An extraordinary woman in a dangerous time, Virginia Hall is a heroine for all times.

I heartily recommend this book to everyone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

THE CODEBREAKERS OF BLETCHLEY PARK – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Codebreakers of Bletchley Park:
The Secret Intelligence Station that Helped
Defeat the Nazis
AuthorJohn Dermot Turing
PublisherArcturus (March 15, 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback
Pages251 pages
Language:English
ASINB082XHJWCW

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sir John Dermot Turing is the 12th Baronet of the Turing baronetcy. He is the nephew of Alan Turing the infamous English mathematician that worked on the enigma machine. He did a D.Phil in genetics at New College, Oxford before moving into the legal profession. He specialized in financial law and is currently an author.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

This book is for everyone. Wether you are a historian, student, WWII enthusiast or just someone who interested in secret intelligence code breaking, you will find this book interesting.

SYNOPSIS

Before James Bond, there was Alister Denniston, Dilly Knox, Alan Turing, Mavis Batley (née Lever), Peter Twinn and Frank Birch.

The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park is a unique take on an old subject and has managed to breathe new life into those who worked on the Enigma machine. It is the true-life account of the people, places and techniques employed for decrypting the machine that the Axis powers used during WWII to secretly encrypt their commercial, diplomatic and military communications. Unlike many books of its kind, The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park paints an intimate observation of the participants that is lacking in other publications. The reader gets a look back in time and at the characters behind the crack. The vital importance of the work at Bletchley Park contributed to the war as a whole and in particular, the Battle of Cape Matapan from 27-29 March, 1941.

The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park is a character driven dive into the ultra-secret world of the codebreakers. Turing’s chronology primarily focuses on the years immediately preceding WWII through the evolution of the Government Code & Cypher School (GC & CS) and its evolution into the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The early codebreakers were, as Alister Denniston dubbed them, ‘the professor type.’ Most of these were ‘Kingsmen,’ alumni of King’s College, Cambridge; although not exclusively. They came from varying disciplines that included mathematics, academia, arts, humanities, classics languages, and history. Once ‘The Hunting Party’ had arrived at Bletchley Park work that began with a hand full of academics quickly grew in size and scope. Those with other skills and talents including: Intelligence Staff, Translators, Linguists, Managers, Machine Operators, Typists, Secretaries, and Stenographers were swiftly recruited.

The author avoids focusing upon Alan Truing, but instead introduces the reader to the arguably equally important contributors to the cracking of the Enigma. My favorite character was Dilly Knox a brilliant scholar of the Classics, specifically Greek. He was humorous and poetic. He constantly threatened to resign his position, was a man full of contradictions, a less than skillful driver and tragically gone too soon.

Those interested in women’s studies will find this publication to be a breath of fresh air. It includes details of the women who worked at Bletchley Park and heralds the significant contributions made by those women. Most of whom were never awarded any recognition or accolade.

CONCLUSION

The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park is anything but a dry retelling of history. I found it intriguing, enlightening and humors in equal amounts. Since I read it a week or two ago, I’ve thought of it fondly and often mentioned it repeatedly to friends and family. This, for me, is the seal of a truly great work and because of this I am rating this book highly.

If you want to find out: who ‘Dilly’s Fillies’ were, why there was a bath in the office of Room 40 at the Admiralty, how QWERTZU has anything to do with the Enigma, how the Bomba became the Bombe or what really went on in Hut 6; you will have to read The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park for yourself. Be prepared for a compelling and extraordinary true-life tale.

Highly recommended for everyone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Sir John Dermot Turing, Netgalley and Arcturus for affording me the opertunity to review The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park: The Secret Intelligence Station that Helped Defeat the Nazis.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

AGENTS OF INFLUENCE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleAgents of Influence                          
AuthorHenry Hemming                        
PublisherPublic Affairs (October 8, 2019)     
FormatPaperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook & CD       
Page400     
LanguageEnglish     
ISBN# 10 / 131541742141 / 978-1541742147     

“Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence.”

Alexander Hamilton
(1757-1804) American statesman, Secretary of the Treasury
Pacificus, No. 6, July 17, 1793.
 

AUTHOR

The author of Agents of Influence is Henry Hemming. You can find more information about him and his other publications here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

I recommend this monograph to those with a general interest in military history and anyone with a particular interest in the asymmetric warfare of World War II.

SYNOPSIS

Agents of Influence is the true story of a British Intelligence team tasked with swaying a reluctant United States of America (USA) to join with Great Britain against the Axis Powers in WWII.

The central character, William (Bill) Stevenson is drawn into the murky world of undercover intelligence operations or a “war by other means.” He was assigned by the British Military Intelligence Agency (MI6) with the task of organizing a hand picked elite team of operatives to work behind the scenes influencing the U.S. populations opinions surrounding their role in the war. To this day His operation is considered to have been the most successful covert action ever to have taken place on U.S. soil. Spectacular in its scope, eye waveringly expensive in terms of cost and promethean in its use of an intelligence campaign, William’s enterprise is one of the greatest examples of mass population influence in modern history.

Hemming has us accompany Stevenson during the dark days of the 1940s following the tragedy of the evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk. In June of 1940 the U.S. population had no interest in becoming embroiled in the war across the “pond.” Through William and his teams influence, the national opinion slowly changed. Within a year and half, the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the U.S. into World War II.

Hemming’s Agents of Influence unrolls the characters and the methods, including “fake news,” that changed the history of the world and the ultimate outcome of the war. He explains the British motivation behind the occult actions employed. He takes us on the ship with Stephenson and the wealth of a nation from across the Atlantic. From there he describes how Bill Stephenson uses his considerable talents to assemble an effective team, integrates them into U.S. society and begins his influence operations behind the scenes. That is just the beginning.

CONCLUSION

Agents of Influence is so outrageous that it seems too unbelievable to be true, and yet it happened. Put simply, it is one of those manuscripts that you find yourself carrying around so that you don’t miss an opportunity to read what happens next. I have just discovered a new favorite author. The next step is to get my hands on one or two of the five other works that Hemming has written. This is a superb read; but don’t take my word for it, go out and get a copy and discover for yourself the pleasure of a Henry Hemming volume. This is the first 5 star review of the year.

Written with academic prowess, scholarly skill, intensively researched, extensively referenced and reads as a compelling novel, Hemming has created a genuine winner.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Henry Hemming, NetGalley, and Public Affairs for affording me the opportunity to review Agents of Influence.

Ian Fleming SOE And Operation POSTMASTER – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleIan Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER
AuthorBrian Lett
PublisherPen and Sword Military (February 19, 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback
Page272
LanguageEnglish     
ISBN-10 / 131526760681 / 978-1526760685

AUTHOR’S BIO

http://www.brianlettauthor.com/about.html

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

Anyone who enjoys history or WWII military operations.

SYNOPSIS

Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER: The Untold Top Secret Story, is a historical look at just one of the Special Operations Executive’s (SOE’s) missions in West Africa. The author draws parallels between this mission, the makeup of the SOE, and Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

The story follows a small group of soldiers from Dunkirk through special operations training to mission “Operation Postmaster.” Brian Lett explains how Ian Fleming was involved with the SOE, how he knew the individuals involved, and how he incorporated certain characteristics from each member into his fictional character James Bond. Brian breaks down the makeup of the SOE and the code words and letters utilized during the time and how Ian Fleming incorporated those into his series.

Operation Postmaster is the tell of a small group of highly motivated soldiers from all walks of life and multiple nationalities banding together to accomplish a single goal. These soldiers trained in England and Scotland, and then went to work on the Spanish island of Fernando Po, now known as Bioko, off West Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. The story describes the trails and tribulations that the SOE went through just to be able to do their job. From the pushback of the Admiralty, to the international political scene.

The detailed planning, the timely execution, and the personal fortitude of the men is quite evident. The fact that they received almost no help from their own military only added to the tale. The British General Officer Commanding (GOC) West Africa Command refused to support the mission. The only way they could accomplish this mission was to get help from the Governor of Nigeria.

CONCLUSION

Operation Postmaster is sometimes thrilling, but for the most part it just tedious. This is in no part due to the author, but due to the lack of support from the British military. In order to tell the story, the author has to incorporate the long delays, the trials, and tribulations that the men had to go through. When the story really picks up it is very good. Overall, I found it an interesting read but one I could do without. The whole operation just seemed a waste of resources for little gain and the possible international ramifications. The way the story is told it seems that the whole operation was just to prove that the SOE could “do it.”

Although there are similarities between the code names of the soldiers and Fleming’s books, there is no evidence that he used this particular mission to from his James Bond 007 series. It is evident that he used his experiences working with the SOE for the background of his series, but I believe the author put too much emphasis on this one mission. My greatest disappointment is that Ian Fleming, although promoted heavily on the dust cover, features less than I expected.

Acknowledgment

My sincere thanks go to: The Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher, for affording me the opportunity to review Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER: The Untold Top Secret Story.

The Battle of Britain Broadcaster – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Title The Battle of Britain Broadcaster
Author Robert Gardner
Publisher Air World (September 30, 2019)
Format Kindle, Hardcover
Page 272
Language English
ASIN: B07YCTPNJB

Author’s Bio (from Amazon)

“Robert Gardner worked as a journalist for four years before moving into public relations with the British Aircraft Corporation becoming Head of Publicity and later Vice President of British Aerospace and BAE Systems. Robert Gardner, who is now retired, was appointed MBE in 2001.”

Who is the Target Audience?

The Battle of Britain Broadcaster: Charles Gardner, Radio Pioneer and WWII Pilot will appeal to anyone interested in British WWII history. History students will find the contents of this book revealing and a genuine look into the times of Britain’s greatest conflict.

Synopsis

The Battle of Britain Broadcaster is unlikely to be a populist favorite. I felt whilst reading this book that it was a publication too late in the day to ever be truly popular as it might have been. That being said, the book is resplendent with fascinating nuggets of intelligence on a myriad of subjects. I found the involvement of Gardner with Lord Mountbatten on the matter of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip Of Greece when he was attending The Naval collage at Dartmouth at the age of 18 and the Princess was a mere 13 years of age to be most revealing. Gardner managed to go far on a Gammer School Education and reached the dizzying heights of the Ministry of Information and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). During his service to King and Country he established many of the principals of broadcasting that the BBC uses today.

Conclusion

I really did want to love this book, but it never really happened. It felt trapped in the past like a man living off of bygone glories. People in today’s Britain are more concerned with right now rather than with the future or the past. For this publication; the Britain of World War 2 and the Britain of the Eurozone of today are literally worlds apart.

Acknowledgement

My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley and Air World for affording me the opportunity to review The Battle of Britain Broadcaster: Charles Gardner, Radio Pioneer and WWII Pilot.

VICKSBURG – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Title Vicksburg
Author Donald L. Miller
Publisher Simon & Schuster (October 29, 2019)
Format Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook     
Page 688     
Language English     
ISBN # 1451641370 ISBN -13   (978-1451641370)     

Author’s Bio

Professor Donald L. Miller is an established author of history related books since 2006. His earlier work: City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America is an award-winning publication. I am familiar with City of the Century, and Vicksburg is at least equal to or better than that book.

Who is the Target Audience?

This masterly study is an important read for those students of United States Civil War, those who enjoy Military Strategy and US Local History of the Civil War period. 

Synopsis

This book is written by Professor Emeritus Donald L. Miller and is already heralded as a potential best seller. Vicksburg possibly being a best seller doesn’t surprise me, because having read this rare gem I also hold that opinion. Miller guides us through the evolution of strategies used by Grant, Porter, and Sherman. The campaign at Vicksburg was the singular pivotal event leading to the final minutes of the South at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

Vicksburg was thought to be completely impregnable due in part to: environment, geographic, natural and geological factors. Grant together with both of his cohorts Porter and Sherman managed to solve a seemingly impossible puzzle in breaching the unreachable. It wasn’t without losses, however, and illness and disease took their toll.

The retelling of the events leading to the conquest of Vicksburg is a compelling tale fixed in history, but now brought to life for a new audience. It is well paced, easy to understand and contains a plethora of facts. It is so well written that many people who usually don’t enjoy these subjects may find they do enjoy Miller’s style of writing.

Conclusion

I have no reluctance in highly recommending this book. It is likely to be an award-winning book in my opinion. I received this as a reviewer for NeGalley but I will be purchasing a copy because I like to support great writers. Don’t wait till it sells out, get your copy as soon as you can. 

Acknowledgment

My sincere thanks go to: The Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher Simon & Schuster for affording me the opportunity to review Vicksburg.