- Series: Kushiel's Legacy (Book 38)
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Picador; 1st Edition edition (February 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250119022
- ISBN-13: 978-1250119025
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 165 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's Defeat (Kushiel's Legacy) Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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"Milton is a meticulous researcher and masterful storyteller. Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, with its ghastly details and dollops of droll British humor, will reward readers who appreciate military history and good writing."―USA Today (3.5 star out of 4)
"A magnificent story, brilliantly told. Read it!"―Anthony Horowitz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Alex Rider Adventure series
“A rousing account–and celebration–of World War II’s most insidious and devious heroes.”―The Wall Street Journal
“An exciting, suspenseful tale of international intrigue.”―Kirkus
“An entertaining read that will keep readers turning the page.”―Library Journal
About the Author
GILES MILTON is an internationally bestselling author of narrative nonfiction. His books include Nathaniel's Nutmeg―serialized by the BBC―and seven other critically acclaimed works of history.
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But in this book, Giles Milton pays close attention to the “little things” that helped win the war: sabotage, guerilla resistance, and new weapons.
The destruction of the German’s Norsk Hydro heavy water plant in Norway prevented the Nazis from producing nuclear weapons; the sabotage of Peugeot factory in Sochaux, France, made it impossible for the Germany army to replace tanks and trucks; and the complete destruction of the Normandie Docks at St. Nazaire by the exploding HMS Campbeltown meant that German ships had to sail up the English Channel to Germany for repairs, and Germany’s largest and most dangerous battleship, the Tirpitz, was put out of action for the rest of the war.
During the Normandy invasion, the underground guerilla resistance movement went into action to prevent the SS Panzer Division Das Reich from reaching Normandy, 450 miles away. First, the tank-carrying flat rail cars were sabotaged with axle grease loaded with carborundum so that the gears would freeze up. Then the French railroad lines were cut in more that 1,000 places. General Lammerding’s Panzer Division was forced to use the roads and the guerillas so harassed them that the three-day trip took seventeen days and the division arrived too late—“the Allied beachhead was secure.”
The invention of the lightweight limpet mine and the sticky bomb took out many German tanks and ships through sabotage in the occupied countries, but the most important new weapon of the war in Europe was the anti-sub Hedgehog, which fired an array of bomb-like homing devices that could surround the German submarines and hone in on them. Much more deadly than the old depth charges, the Hedgehogs deployed on U.S. and British naval ships destroyed thirty-seven enemy subs in less than a year.
These are just a few examples of the “ungentlemanly warfare” techniques in Milton’s excellent and exciting book. World War Two buffs and readers interested in military history will simply love this book that proves a few saboteurs on the ground were more valuable than a fleet of bombers. I rate the book at four and a half stars.
Winston Churchill was a man of many gifts, one of the most important being his willingness to engage in lateral or "outside the box" thinking. When he became Prime Minister in the face of what seemed certain defeat in 1940 he immediately sought out and encouraged other lateral thinkers, men willing to be "ungentlemanly" by fighting off what seemed inevitable with every ingenious new trick possible. In turn these men recruited other men and women, some of them brilliant engineers and mathematicians and all of them gifted with fiendishly clever imaginations, to devise new weapons with which to fight in an underhanded manner. These weapons, often made from the most ordinary materials like candies and condoms, were then put into the hands of men who had been trained in unexpected ways to murder and maim their enemies.
The exploits of these brave and ingenious fighters make James Bond films seem tame and unexceptional in comparison. Enemy ships apparently safely embargoed in neutral ports were pirated out from under their surprised crews' noses, factories were blown up while being heavily guarded by elite German troops, trains carrying vital supplies were derailed without warning, bridges spanning impossibly steep crevasses were brought crashing down by expertly placed explosives, and perhaps most importantly a Norwegian heavy water plant was sabotaged, destroying Hitler's efforts to create an atomic bomb in the process.
I thoroughly enjoyed Milton's recounting of these and many other tales of heroism and valor, replete with nice little human touches here and there, including the heavy water saboteurs who kindly let a Norwegian watchman go and retrieve his glasses before blowing the factory sky-high. If, after reading Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare you are eager for more true tales of derring-do laced with brazen audacity, I suggest Milton's earlier work Russian Roulette or Ben Macintyre's Operation Mincemeat and Rogue Heroes.