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The Secret War Against Hitler

ISBN: 978-1441745965
Review Date:

Before William Casey became the Director of Central Intelligence, he was an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) staff officer in Europe during WW2. He told of his experience during the war years in The Secret War Against Hitler, noting black and white propaganda, efforts against the German atomic weapons development, the phantom Calais invasion force, cooperation with the French resistance, and other topics. As someone who had been there, receiving reports and making decisions, I was given a front row seat in the war room, observing Casey and others conducting covert battles against Germany. Even though many passages were clearly biased by his own personal involvement and by his acclaim of OSS chief William Donovan, this memoir nevertheless documented the trial by fire of the young American intelligence community.

I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. I had really enjoyed Peter Kjenaas' reading of the book, especially his quick pace without losing clarity. I had two complaints about the production, however. The smaller of the two would be a common one from me: it seemed that Kjenaas was thrown into it without given any opportunity to learn the pronunciation of the many German, French, and other foreign language names that appeared in the book, resulting in either confused ("Gauleiter" being read as a French word of sorts, "Gauletier", which was actually rather amusing) or awkward ("von Kluge" and "Peenemünde" came to mind) readings. The complaint of a bit more consequence was the audio quality; I found the recording to be too low in frequency, and when I attempted to raise the volume, the background hiss became an annoyance.

The significance of OSS' contributions in WW2 had long been the subject of debate. While some argued that Donovan's group of amateurs contributed little, but the war experience gave the Americans what was needed to establish a modern intelligence service for the Cold War, Casey took the opposite stance. Although his war time memoir The Secret War Against Hitler might be biased and must be read with caution, it provided a valuable perspective of the operations from a first person perspective.

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