- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Dutton; 1st edition (June 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525946640
- ISBN-13: 978-0525946649
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Secret Soldiers: The Story of World War II's Heroic Army of Deception Hardcover – June 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Although it includes some U.S. Navy deception activities carried out by the late actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr., among others, novelist Philip Gerard's Secret Soldiers: The Story of World War II's Heroic Army of Deception concentrates on the WWII activities of the Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, whose activities were kept secret for many years. The 23rd used sound effects, camouflage and radio to mislead the Germans about Allied plans and conceal Allied troop movements during the liberation of France and the invasion of Germany in 1944-1945. Their story is told here through veteran recollections, memoirs and published works, and includes anecdotes of army life and combat.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Theater designers, sound technicians, painters--these are not at first glance the kind of vocations that bring to mind war heroics until one considers their record of deception in war. One operation famously fooled the Germans about where D-Day would land; less well known are the doings of the unit Gerard has brought to light. In this originally researched saga of the Twenty-third Headquarters Special Troops, Gerard explains that actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. lobbied to have a deception unit created. Press flack Hilton Howell Railey was appointed to assemble the troops, and he picked creative people (including future fashion plate Bill Blass) attuned to visuals vital to deception. Once shipped to Europe, the Twenty-third, now under the command of a career officer, tried to perpetrate frauds on the Germans by posing either as fake divisions or as real divisions that were actually posted elsewhere. Gerard interviewed veterans and read their war papers in doing research for his book, and their personal experiences are the highlight of this work. Fresh material for the WWII shelf. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This book gets into the technical details just enough to let the reader understand the basics of the various deceptions the units "played" without bogging the book down. Its strength is painting a whole picture of how the unit formed, the key leaders that made the unit successful, the unusual mix (for the Army) of artists that had the initiative and innovation to pull off their deceptions, the daily routines for the enlisted men, and of course the various operations that were conducted.
Well balanced between interviews with the actual soldiers and the facts of the operations while setting the scene of what wartime Europe was like during their short deployment, Gerard has done a great service in documenting the unit's once top-secret history.