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Most Secret War (Wordsworth Military Library) Paperback – August, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Wordsworth Military Library
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New edition edition (August 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185326699X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853266997
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is also known as the Wizard War.
The author as a relatively young man was the technical intelligence director for the British Royal Air Force in WW II. As such he was involved in the development of active, passive, and counter measures to thwart the German Luftwaffe.
Developments included radars, anti ship missiles,jet engines, defense against buzz bombs, and the jamming of radio navigation systems used by the Germans.
After the war the author returned to Scotland to become a university professor. He returned to service during the Korean War period. His other book Reflections on Intelligence reveals him to be a man of erudition and covers and fills in some of the gaps in the story told herein which could not be revealed at the time this book was written.
Another one for the complete shelf of intelligence classics.
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Format: Paperback
This book is as fascinating for the inside stories it reveals about a number of secret technical measures and counter-measures used by the British and German military, as it is about the iron law of large organizations: "Politics Always Comes First."

R.V. Jones was a 27-year old natural disciple of William of Occam. He was a superb engineer. He combined his calm, clear-eyed logic with a gritty determination to always find things out for himself. He analyzed what was going on in the emerging field of radar, and consistently out-guessed the Germans and his own military intelligence organizations about what was coming next, and when. Then he did battle with the establishment crowd that always gathers at the top of any organization wielding power. Were it not that Churchill spotted his unusual talent, and acted as a blocker for him, he would have had his job snatched away by a dozen regal interlopers. The inexplicable aspect of this political dynamic is that even when higher-ups are repeatedly shown to be wrong, they are almost never removed from their commanding posts. Instead, the slate is wiped clean on their error, and they are promptly back in the fray, trying once again to unseat the upstart who got lucky. And they never forget the insult.

The British military intelligence apparatus during WW-II was remarkable for the caliber of the talent it obtained, and the relatively free-wheeling interaction amongst these university types. In many ways it was the best aspect of the old boy's club where one could always count on a chum to intercede or get cross-organizational information. When used to advance the cause, it is unbeatable in getting things done.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Jones was an Oxford physicist from a military family who found himself in charge of English scientific intelligence during the Second World War. In this capacity, he led the effort to identify new German technologies and tactics, and then devise countermeasures.

Among his accomplishments were sending a raiding party across the Channel to dismantle and bring back a complete German radar station, anticipating and foiling the navigation systems the Germans devised for their bombers, anticipating and devising limited countermeasures to the V1s and V2s, exfiltrating Niels Bohr from Copenhagen and analyzing German effort to develop atomic bombs.

Dr. Jones certainly lived in interesting times, but unlike the much quoted Chinese curse, which continues with may one have powerful enemies, the powerful men in his life, most notably Churchill, had complete faith in him, and with good reason.

This is an incredible book, which I heartily recommend to anyone with an interest in military history or science.
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Format: Hardcover
Wizard War distills and communicates the experiences of an experienced and widely-respected intelligence analyst. Dr. Jones' recounting of the intelligence challenges presented him and how they were overcome stands out as an absolute requirement in the gathering of intelligence lore by students of the profession. Writing style is personable and entertaining. Intelligence professionals of all ranks and stations should read this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book, because the writer was at the centre of what he writes about, he has humour, he presents enough scientific detail of the work to make it interesting and not tedious. For me the books principal charm is in the depiction of how intelligence officers in those days would get smudged phtographs, or one line radio intercepts from state of the art equipment that to us seems like something from a child's hobby kit, and would try to guess what was up on the other side.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Jones is wonderful storyteller and surprised me with how humble he is, given his amazing achievements during the war. Not once did he fail to credit all those that helped him and constantly reminds the reader that the "true heroes" were those who risked and lost their lives, both on the front and acting as support for his efforts (e.g. photographic reconnaissance).

The story itself gives one an insider's view of how desperate the British situation was in 1940 and how a nation pulled together, despite petty rivalry and bureaucratic obstacles, to fight The Blitz and turn the tide in the air war.

Being an electrical engineer, I was also intrigued by the history of RADAR (RDF to the British) and remote targeting, and how it was employed differently by the British and Germans. However, I cannot say how a non-technical reader will like this.
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