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Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted… (2016)

de Giles Milton

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3381657,724 (4.14)20
"Six gentlemen, one goal: the destruction of Hitler's war machine. In the spring of 1939, a top-secret organization was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler's war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage. The guerrilla campaign that followed was every bit as extraordinary as the six men who directed it. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler's favorite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world's leading expert in silent killing, hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines. Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men--along with three others--formed a secret inner circle that, aided by a group of formidable ladies, single-handedly changed the course Second World War: a cohort hand-picked by Winston Churchill, whom he called his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and derring-do that is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War"--… (mais)
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    The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century de Phillip Knightley (nessreader)
    nessreader: There's a lot about SOE in Knightley's book, though he is less enthusiastic about the organisation and sceptical about its usefulness - interesting as a contrasting point of view. (Knightley generally seems to despise spies, in his entire book of 20th century spycraft)… (mais)
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In 1939, Churchill brought together a group of six men whose job was to fight "dirty," as it became clear that guerrilla warfare and innovative weapons might be the only way to beat Hitler. This group of out-of-the-box thinkers used everything from hard candies that dissolved in ocean water to higher mathematics to design bombs and plots that would foil Hitler's plans.
Although at times I felt the book gets bogged down in the bureaucracy of it all (I'd start skimming at the details of who hired whom), there are other places where the book reads like a series of daring, bizarre escapades. My favorite account, toward the end, was about a small group of men who parachuted into Norway to destroy a heavy water plant that Hitler would have used to build an atomic bomb. The fact that they landed in a dense blizzard, then (by sheer luck) literally bumped into a solitary hut that sheltered them for four days until the blizzard ended, confounded Nazi resistance, found their resistance counterparts, scaled a huge cliff, on top of which stood the factory, and managed to set off the bombs and escape without significant injury is ... well, it could be a GREAT movie.
What also fascinated me was that the notion of "(un)gentlemanly warfare" in 1939 was produced discursively, in an argument on the Letters page of the London *Times*. One writer claimed that the sword was the only weapon appropriate for a gentleman, as it gave both fellows a chance and made it a "sporting affair." But--another writer pointed out--did it really matter if one cut the enemy's jugular with a sword or a bayonet? This book spends some time tracing the process by which the English eventually acknowledged that Hitler was no longer playing by rules that governed earlier wars. As I read, I had some compassion for Chamberlain; he didn't want to acknowledge that difference--perhaps because it suggested many other kinds of loss. The very definitions of words such as fairness and justice and decency were changing.
I stole this book from my husband's nightstand after we began watching ATLANTIC CROSSING on PBS. I found this book a good companion to the series, which begins in Norway in 1939 and follows the Crown Princess of Norway to America, where she influences FDR's thoughts and policies on the war. I would recommend to fans of WWII true history and of books such as Eric Larson's THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE. ( )
  KarenOdden | May 4, 2021 |
Really enjoyed this book - amazing to read how important the work of these men and women was to the war effort. ( )
  PGWilliams71 | Jan 31, 2021 |
Good overview of the UK's Special Operations Executive and affiliated organizations, covering both operational deployments (the famous raid on Norsk Hydro, attacks on the Peugeot works, the Fernando Po affair, counter-drydock operations on the Atlantic coast), as well as the creation, training, and operational structure, and the interesting bureaucratic work-arounds to support weapons manufacture (including some amazing weapons of WW2 -- the limpet mine, the anti-submarine "hedgehog", etc.). Focuses on 6 of the core personnel. Overall, very good, but each operation or equipment program really could be several books.

Particularly interesting was how many of the personnel were essentially a soft form of pacifists, and believed that SOE-type operations could save lives vs. strategic bombing and other combat, and several moved to that view after the war. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
«Uma história fantástica e contada de modo brilhante.»
Anthony Horowitz

Seis homens, um objetivo: derrotar Hitler.

Na primavera de 1939, nasceu em Londres uma organização secreta com o objetivo de planear a destruição da máquina de guerra de Hitler através de espetaculares atos de sabotagem. A campanha de guerra de guerrilha que se seguiu revelou-se tão extraordinária quanto os homens que a dirigiam.
Um deles era Cecil Clarke, um engenheiro que inventou várias bombas sujas, entre elas a que matou Reinhard Heydrich, o «Carniceiro de Praga». Outro dos homens era William Fairbairn, um reformado corpulento especialista na arte de matar silenciosamente.

Liderados pelo escocês Colin Gubbins, estes homens — juntamente com outros três — foram escolhidos por Churchill, pela sua criatividade e desprezo pelas regras de cavalheirismo, para formarem o seu Ministério da Guerra Suja.
Relatada com o entusiasmo e atenção aos pormenores de Giles Milton, esta talvez seja a última grande história por contar da Segunda Guerra Mundial. ( )
  LuisFragaSilva | Nov 8, 2020 |
Brilliantly researched history of the exceptional figures who developed unrivalled unique weaponry and sabotage techniques in the teeth of opposition from the establishment. ( )
  edwardsgt | Oct 14, 2020 |
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Clive, my dear fellow, this is not a gentleman's war. This is a life and death struggle. You are fighting for your very existence against the most devilish idea ever created by a human brain – Nazism. And if you lose there won't be a return match next year, perhaps not even for a hundred years!

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
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For Simon, ever the gentleman.
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Cecil Clarke viewed his caravan with the sort of affection that most men reserve for their wives.
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"Six gentlemen, one goal: the destruction of Hitler's war machine. In the spring of 1939, a top-secret organization was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler's war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage. The guerrilla campaign that followed was every bit as extraordinary as the six men who directed it. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler's favorite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world's leading expert in silent killing, hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines. Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men--along with three others--formed a secret inner circle that, aided by a group of formidable ladies, single-handedly changed the course Second World War: a cohort hand-picked by Winston Churchill, whom he called his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and derring-do that is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War"--

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