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Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America Paperback – January 20, 2015
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"Important, superbly written.... Jacobsen's book allows us to explore these questions with the ultimate tool: hard evidence. She confronts us with the full extent of Paperclip's deal with the devil, and it's difficult to look away."―Matt Damsker, USA Today (4 stars)
"With Annie Jacobsen's OPERATION PAPERCLIP for the first time the enormity of the effort has been laid bare. The result is a book that is at once chilling and riveting, and one that raises substantial and difficult questions about national honor and security...This book is a remarkable achievement of investigative reporting and historical writing."―Boston Globe
"As comprehensive as it is critical, this latest expose from Jacobsen is perhaps her most important work to date.... Jacobsen persuasively shows that it in fact happened and aptly frames the dilemma.... Rife with hypocrisy, lies, and deceit, Jacobsen's story explores a conveniently overlooked bit of history." -- Publishers Weekly (starred)
"The most in depth account yet of the lives of Paperclip recruits and their American counterparts.... Jacobsen deftly untangles the myriad German and American agencies and personnel involved...more gripping and skillfully rendered are the stories of American and British officials who scoured defeated Germany for Nazi scientists and their research."―New York Times Book Review
"Chilling, compelling, and comprehensive accounting.... Jacobsen's impressive book plumbs the dark depths of this postwar recruiting and shows the historical truths behind the space race and postwar US dominance. Highly recommended for readers in World War II history, espionage, government cover-ups, or the Cold War." -- Library Journal (starred)
"Darkly picaresque.... Jacobsen persuasively argues that the mindset of the former Nazi scientists who ended up working for the American government may have exacerbated Cold War paranoia."―New Yorker
"An engrossing and deeply disturbing exposé that poses ultimate questions of means versus ends." -- Booklist (starred)
"Annie Jacobsen's Operation Paperclip is a superb investigation, showing how the U.S. government recruited the Nazis' best scientists to work for Uncle Sam on a stunning scale. Sobering and brilliantly researched." -- Alex Kershaw, author of The Liberator
"Throughout, the author delivers harrowing passages of immorality, duplicity and deception, as well as some decency and lots of high drama. How Dr. Strangelove came to America and thrived, told in graphic detail." -- Kirkus Reviews
"[A] gripping, always disquieting story of a nation forced to trade principle for power.... Jacobsen gives us many vivid moments.... OPERATION PAPERCLIP takes its place in the annals of Cold War literature, one more proof that moral purity and great power can seldom coexist."―Chris Tucker, The Dallas Morning News
About the Author
Annie Jacobsen is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Area 51 and Operation Paperclip and was a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.
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As for the book itself, it is well written and presumably well researched. My parents had always said that von Braun was a very conceited individual (they used much stronger language though) so I can attest to that research information personally. My father was amazed at what the Americans did NOT know technically about rocket design, even in the 1950's as he had learned all that at University in Munich the 30s! Also another member of my extended family was a rocket scientist in Berlin at the same company and was dragged off to Russia. His house was surrounded by machine guns and the family had 24 hours to get their stuff together.They were there for 10 years before being released. So the competition between Russia and the USA to get these German rocket experts was very real.
In the war’s aftermath, the US was left with a dilemma: Should they take advantage of the scientist’s expertise? Prosecute them for their crimes? Or risk having them captured by the Soviets, just as the Cold War was beginning?
Author Annie Jacobsen chronicles the rapidly spinning moral compass the US faced dealing with the fate of the German experts. Using a wide range of documents (including some only recently de-classified for this book) she traces the stories of many notable scientists, and the “Operation Paperclip” the US set up to sanitize their Nazi past. Wernher von Braun, for example, is known to most Americans as the heroic NASA designer who designed the Saturn-V rocket carrying astronauts to the moon. But in WWII, his V-2 missiles killed thousands of civilians in England and northern Europe. The underground factory constructing these missiles worked thousands more concentration camp prisoners to their deaths.
This book traces the frantic search for the scientists and their work as WWII wound down, then the bureaucratic push and pull as various agencies struggled with the scientists fates as well as prosecuting others for war crimes. Finally, she traces the ultimate fate of some of the scientists. Some had prosperous new lives as successful engineers and businessmen. Others ultimately died in disgrace as their Nazi past caught up to them. The book is an important chapter of post-war history just now coming to light.