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Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence In World War II Paperback – June, 2000


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Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence In World War II + Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-boat Codes, 1933-1945, Revised Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 671 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press ed edition (June 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306809494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306809491
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A serious book, clearly: handcrafted, meant to last." -- New York Times Book Review

About the Author

David Kahn spent eight years researching and writing this book, including a year in the German military archives. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Oxford and is also the author of the acclaimed best-seller The Codebreakers: The Story of Secret Writing. He lives in Great Neck, New York.

More About the Author

David Kahn, a recently visiting historian at the National Security Agency, is the world's leading expert on the history of cryptology, and the author of Hitler's Spies, Seizing the Enigma, and Kahn on Codes, as well as articles in numerous popular and technical journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Modern History from Oxford. An editor at Newsday, he lives in Great Neck, New York.

Customer Reviews

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Excellent; very detailed.
Terry Christian
There is a tremendous amount of information in this book and the author's skillful writing style makes it all seem easy to understand.
Bonner '62
Secondly, it is the probably the most well constructed book in English talking about German intelligence in the Second World War.
J. Michael Showalter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
In 1978, David Kahn attempted to write the first comprehensive history of German military intelligence in the Second World War. There results are mixed. The author is to be applauded for shedding considerable new light on this heretofore-neglected subject. However, this is an anecdote-driven study, not a comprehensive history. To be sure, Kahn covers virtually every aspect of intelligence collection and analysis in the Third Reich. In itself, the scope of this work is impressive and the reader quickly gains an appreciation for the amount of research required to produce this result.
Organizationally, the book is divided into three main sections. After a sixty-page prologue that outlines the origins of German military intelligence, the first section details all the various collection agencies in the next 300 pages. Everything from agents, to radio intercept units, Luftwaffe interrogators, aerial and tactical reconnaissance is covered, each in its own chapter. The second section, of 69 pages, covers the various organizations that analyzed intelligence in the Third Reich. The final section, 75 pages long, analyzes three case studies (Operations Barbarossa, Torch and Overlord) where German intelligence failed. A 20-page conclusion outlines Kahn's theories on why German intelligence failed in its mission. There are also many useful extras, including excellent photos, original documents and a 1943 intelligence organization chart.
While most sections are usually interesting to read, the anecdote-driven nature of this work is a severe detractor. The chapters bounce around chronologically, with Kahn typically providing an anecdote from the 1940 French campaign, then the Russian Front and then one from the Normandy campaign.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. Michael Showalter on October 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kahn's book can be read on two levels. On the first (the more shallow) it provides a few great stories about SPIES, which, as any student of war should be able to indicate, are just fun. Kahn capably points out such horrendously important information as at what stores German agents shopped at, and where German contacts lived in New York City. Which is an awful lot of fun, and that one can say that about an academic author writing a credible book deserves credit into and of itself.
Secondly, it is the probably the most well constructed book in English talking about German intelligence in the Second World War. Certainly, by this point, many books have been written and become popular illustrating the history of the OSS (the US spy agency) and MI-6 (the British one) but this is the first uber-credible account of German intelligence that I have ever stumbled upon (not that I've spent a great deal of my life looking....) Kahn capably illustrates the structural strengths and weaknesses of the system, and also does a thourough job of in dealing with the personalities that made them better (or worse) than they should have been. He does a good job of discounting the popular conception that only generals win battles: intellegence, in the case of this war, if used properly could have stopped Hitler from making several of his most egregious errors.
People who like this book might also like a book that focuses a tremendous amount of it's words on Admiral Canaris called "The Unseen War in Europe" although it's largely about how the US and the UK used intellegence to their benefit during the war.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R.N.Armstrong (COL,USA, Ret) on March 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Commanders in military history often get too much credit for their tactical decisions. Intelligence often gives one the boldness to act decisively on the battlefield. David Kahn's indepth study of German military intelligence provides useful insights to the complex business of collecting, analyzing and assessing information on the enemy. The "mosaic" work, a term Germans used to describe their bringing together all the pieces, illustrates the use of air reconnaissance, radio intercepts, prisoner of war, and ground patrols for assessments upon which German commanders made their decisions. This easy read is an exceptional and interesting book on the state-of-the-art for military intelligence during the Second World War.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. E. Cantrell VINE VOICE on November 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a massive book. In its hardbound edition, there are 541 pages of text and another 130 pages of citations, translations, abbreviations, notes, bibliography and index. This book, published in 1978, stands worthily beside the author's earlier and better known book, "The Codebreakers."

The book's title, "Hitler's Spies", however, is a bit misleading. David Kahn has this to say about the book in his preface: "The study would encompass not just spies but all forms of information gathering.... It would base itself not on the writings of other authors on intelligence, but on primary sources. And it would not stop with the intelligence coups, but would complete the story by telling how the information was used--or not used by the generals." [Page ix, 1978 hardbound edition.]

A little later, he adds, "In a more general sense, what has emerged is a picture of Hitler's intelligence apparatus and its results. Or, in other words, the information-gathering mechanism of an entire nation. No one seems to have done this before (and now that I've finished, I know why.)" [Page xi.]

That is what the author tells us the book is. What the book emphatically is not, is a linear narrative of Hitler's spies or of Hitler's intelligence apparatus and its results or even of the information-gathering mechanism of an entire nation. No, what we find here is something that has the look and feel and heft of an encyclopedia on the German spies/apparatus/mechanism of the National Socialist era.
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