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Instruments of Darkness: The History of Electronic Warfare, 1939-1945 Hardcover – February 19, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr Alfred Price served as an aircrew officer in the RAF until 1974. Since then he has been a full-time aviation historian and writer, and is acknowledged as a leading authority on the Spitfire. He is co-author of the Haynes Spitfire Manual.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books; First Edition edition (February 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853676160
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853676161
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,620,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Morgan on December 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alfred Price, a career EW himself, wrote the original version of this work in 1967 when much of what he covers was still shrouded in official secrecy and myth. This book, revised twice since then, has stood the test of time and remains one of the great efforts on the subject of Electronic Warfare in the Second World War.
The majority of the coverage is on the electronic war between England and Nazi Germany as they developed competing systems to aid their respective bombing campaigns and the countermeasures that arose in the form of improved aerial radars and passive reception devices. It's strengths include interviews with many of the participants in this obscure form of combat and the amount of information provided on the incredible array of devices and gadgets developed for electronic combat between 1939 and 1945.Although he does have several chapters covering US work and the Pacific War, these areas are better covered in the series he later wrote on US EW History for the Association of Old Crows. Over 60 years later the basics of EW really haven't changed, which makes this book still important reading for anyone interested in the dark arts of electronic warfare.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By 10th Legion on October 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Alfred Price offers another well researched,easy to follow, history of airborne electronic warfare, during World War II in the European theater. The strength of the book is that he threads the many personalities and issues associated with conducting electronic warfare into a engaging narrative. The focus is on the Royal Air Force's Bomber Commands efforts agains the Luftwaffe's air defense of the Third Reich. The US Army Air Force's daylight bombing campaign has some brief mentions, but not in any significant depth. I can easily recommend this book for anyone interested in the topic for they will enjoy a well written and presented study of the topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barrett Tillman on August 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Disclaimer: my copy was published in 1977 (second edition), so I've not seen the more recent version(s).

Clearly Alfred Price knows his subject intimately, and he has produced an essential reference on the subject. Rather than try to add to the five-star reviews I'll note that my edition lacks any sources, which limits the otherwise fine treatment. Some compelling information and stories are well described but many serious readers would benefit from source notes.

A few relatively minor comments:

Many players are identified only by surnames or first initials. For instance, we have to check elsewhere to learn that the Major Frost who led the "snatch" raid on the German radar site in 1942 was the same John Frost who featured in the D-Day parachute landings. Similarly, we are not told the total force of the Paras dropped around the Bruneval facility. Other sources tell us that Frost had 120 men--a curious omission.

Stylistic note: the author, like so many, relies heavily upon definite articles (mainly 'this' and 'these') often in the same paragraph. Perhaps it's a UK-US distinction, but sometimes clarity suffers. To which subject do 'this' or 'these' refer? Apart from frequent repetition, it's not always clear.

Foregoing comments aside, "Instruments of Darkness" is highly authoritative. If Alfred Price makes a statement, you can trust it. Radio and radar were perhaps the ultimate "weapons" of WW II, as both were essential to conduct of the war by all combatants in all theaters (theatres!), and "IOD" remains a valuable resource 35 years after first publication.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous (Australia) on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a truly great book about electronic warfare. Details many jammers/radars/Nav-aids/ESMs etc used during WWII, primarily those used by the UK and Germany. The stories are informative, with just the right amount of detail and are occasionally humorous. The Pacific theatre is also covered, though in less detail (as there was less going on there EW wise).

This book has maintained its relevance, as the EW practices employed back then are still practiced today. The constant battle between ES/EA/EP is prevalent in this book; and it remains so today.

I also recommend purchasing Most Secret War by R V Jones.
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