Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
<p>Examining the espionage and intelligence stories in World War II, on a global basis, bringing together the British, American, German, Russian and Japanese histories.<p>In The Secret War, Max Hastings examines the espionage and intelligence machines of all sides in World War II, and the impact of spies, code-breakers and partisan operations on events. Written on a global scale, the book brings together accounts from British, American, German, Russian and Japanese sources to tell the story of a secret war waged unceasingly by men and women often far from the battlefields but whose actions profoundly influenced the outcome.<p>Returning to the Second World War for the first time since his best-selling All Hell Let Loose, Hastings weaves into a big picture framework, the human stories of spies and intelligence officers who served their respective masters. Told through a series of snapshots of key moments, the book looks closely at Soviet espionage operations which dwarfed those of every other belligerent in scale, as well as the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park the greatest intelligence achievement of the conflict with many more surprising and unfamiliar tales of treachery, deception, betrayal and incompetence by spies of Axis, Allied or indeterminate loyalty."
Includes bibliographical references (pages -587) and index.
Before the deluge -- The storm breaks -- Miracles take a little longer: Bletchley -- The dogs that barked -- Divine winds -- Muddling and groping: the Russians at war -- Britain's secret war machine -- "Mars": the bloodiest deception -- The orchestra's last concert -- Guerrilla -- Hover's G-men, Donovan's wild men -- Russia's partisans: terrorising both sides -- Islands in the storm -- A little help from their friends -- The knowledge factories -- "Blunderhead": the English patient -- Eclipse of the Abwehr -- Battlefields -- Black widows, few white knights -- "Enormoz" -- Decoding victory.
Packed with insight and terrific spy stories, this masterly book looks at the secret war on a global basis, bringing together the British, American, German, Russian and Japanese histories. In 'The Secret War', Max Hastings examines the espionage and intelligence machines of all sides in World War II, and the impact of spies, code-breakers and partisan operations on events. Written on a global scale, the book brings together accounts from British, American, German, Russian and Japanese sources to tell the story of a secret war waged unceasingly by men and women often far from the battlefields but whose actions profoundly influenced the outcome. Returning to the Second World War for the first time since his best-selling 'All Hell Let Loose', Hastings weaves into a 'big picture' framework, the human stories of spies and intelligence officers who served their respective masters. Told through a series of snapshots of key moments, the book looks closely at Soviet espionage operations which dwarfed those of every other belligerent in scale, as well as the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park - the greatest intelligence achievement of the conflict - with many more surprising and unfamiliar tales of treachery, deception, betrayal and incompetence by spies of Axis, Allied or indeterminate loyalty.
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Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Some books are like spies in that it is often necessary to peel back layers to reveal their true intent. This latest work from -Hastings (Catastrophe 1914; All Hell Let Loose) falls within this realm, paying homage to World War II intelligence agencies. Uncovering complex information, the text reveals three narrative themes: mere intelligence did not win the war, democracies were more advantageously attuned to their agencies' output, and that Germany, Japan, and Russia ignored insights that conflicted with their interests, leading to consequences on the battlefield. This dense and occasionally cumbersome work is not a chronology of events; instead the author provides readers with a thorough understanding of how intelligence operated during the conflict. Hastings' narrative fits nicely with titles such as Christof Mauch's The Shadow War Against Hitler, Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev's TRIPLEX, and David Kahn's Hitler's Spies. VERDICT Recommended for World War II and spy enthusiasts as well as those who desire an informative historical read.-Jacob Sherman, John Peace Lib., Univ. of Texas at San Antonio © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Hastings (Catastrophe: 1914) further solidifies his gift for combining scholarship and readability in this scintillating overview of intelligence operations in WWII. He moves through the large, highly specialized body of knowledge to share the whole story: machines and code books, agents and double agents, deceptions and illusions. Combining chronological and thematic approaches, Hastings makes a strong case that "it is impossible justly to attribute all credit for the success or blame for the failure of an operation to any single factor." Even the vaunted ULTRA system was part of a structure dependent on human skill, judgment, and intuition. Stalin's discounting of the barking "dogs in the night"-the stream of accurate intelligence on Germany's intentions in 1941-brought the U.S.S.R. to the brink of catastrophe. In contrast, the U.S. victory at Midway owed much to Adm. Chester Nimitz accepting the word of radio intelligence that, still in its early stages, was "practically the only source" of reports in the Central Pacific. Hastings takes readers behind the lines with Britain's Special Operations Executive and describes parallel missions in such neutral states as Ireland and Portugal. He also provides character sketches of a number of clandestine agents. Hastings tells it all in a book everyone interested in WWII should acquire. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Celebrated military historian Hastings' (Catastrophe 1914, 2013) earlier works concentrated on soldiers and sailors operating in the field. Here he focuses on the activities of more clandestine warriors, including spies, code breakers, and underground resistance fighters. This is an ambitious and often fascinating account that utilizes a global approach, as it examines the participants on both the Allied and Axis sides during WWII. Hastings recognizes the heroic efforts of many of these men and women but doesn't shrink from questioning their effectiveness. Although the code breakers at Bletchley Park eventually broke the German Enigma code, they didn't succeed until late in 1942, allowing German U-boats to continue ravaging transatlantic shipping. At roughly the same time, Germans had broken British naval codes, giving them advance notice of Allied convey movements. Churchill hoped to use the various resistance movements to set afire Nazi-occupied Europe; Hastings asserts that, other than the Soviet partisans, their immense sacrifices were largely in vain. This wide-ranging account is filled with compelling characters, some admirable, others morally dubious. Hastings also illustrates that even great intelligence coups can be wasted by politicians who fail to properly utilize the information. A superb survey of an always interesting aspect of warfare.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2016 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Taking a break with Catastrophe: 1914 (2013), veteran military historian Hastings returns to World War II with the usual entirely satisfying results. There are plenty of excellent accounts of the war's espionage, codebreaking, and secret operations. Hastings mentions authors, including Stephen Budiansky and David Kahn, and warns that he will cover the same ground, adding that many popular histories and almost all memoirs and even official reports from the participants are largely fictionincluding the recent acclaimed film about Alan Turing, The Imitation Game. The Red Army defeated Germany with modest help from the Allied Army, which, across the world, defeated Japan. Hastings disparages writers who describe a secret activity that turned the tide, but few readers will be able to resist his version of events. Hitler and Stalin scorned Britain's armies, but, influenced by the work of Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, and John Buchan, they "viewed its spies with extravagant respect, indeed cherished a belief in their omniscience" that was entirely undeserved. Money was no object in Soviet espionage. Agents penetrated the Nazi high command and all Allied government, sending back an avalanche of information that was routinely ignored. Obsessed with finding conspiracies, the paranoid Stalin distrusted everyone, foreigners most of all, and rejected findings that contradicted his beliefs. Allied codebreakers deserve the praise lavished on them, but Hastings points out that the German codebreakers were no slouches. While Bletchley Park broke enemy naval codes intermittently, Germany read British naval codes throughout the war. Hastings has little quarrel with historians who agree that resistance fighters did more to promote postwar self-respect of occupied nations than hasten Allied victory. As he notes in closing, in the digital age, "the importance to national security of intelligence, eavesdropping, codebreaking and counter-insurgency has never been greater." A masterful account of wartime skulduggery that has relevance still today. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.