A Genius for Deception

A Genius for Deception : How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars

3.63 (483 ratings by Goodreads)

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Description

In February 1942, intelligence officer Victor Jones erected 150 tents behind British lines in North Africa. "Hiding tanks in Bedouin tents was an old British trick," writes Nicholas Rankin. German general Erwin Rommel not only knew of the ploy, but had copied it himself. Jones knew that Rommel knew. In fact, he counted on it--for these tents were empty. With the deception that he was carrying out a deception, Jones made a weak point look like a trap. In A Genius for Deception, Nicholas Rankin offers a lively and comprehensive history of how Britain bluffed, tricked, and spied its way to victory in two world wars. As Rankin shows, a coherent program of strategic deception emerged in World War I, resting on the pillars of camouflage, propaganda, secret intelligence, and special forces. All forms of deception found an avid sponsor in Winston Churchill, who carried his enthusiasm for deceiving the enemy into World War II. Rankin vividly recounts such little-known episodes as the invention of camouflage by two French artist-soldiers, the creation of dummy airfields for the Germans to bomb during the Blitz, and the fabrication of an army that would supposedly invade Greece. Strategic deception would be key to a number of WWII battles, culminating in the massive misdirection that proved critical to the success of the D-Day invasion in 1944. Deeply researched and written with an eye for telling detail, A Genius for Deception shows how the British used craft and cunning to help win the most devastating wars in human history.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 466 pages
  • 152.4 x 236.22 x 38.1mm | 839.14g
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • Oxford, England, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 019538704X
  • 9780195387049
  • 1,299,060

Review quote

"A delight-filled account...as much an entertainment as history."--Wall Street Journal"A fascinating new book about British intelligence s deception operations against the Axis powers. --Washington Post SpyTalk Rankin's page-turner makes the most of the gifted amateurs, eccentrics, and professional illusionists responsible for the imaginative schemes of the British military and details the care and seriousness with which they were implemented. --Foreign Affairs"There isn't a dull page -- not even a dull sentence -- in Nicholas Rankin's fantastic wunderkabinet of wartime revelations. It is all here -- colonels in drag, midget submarines, corpses with stashed secrets, a black radio station called Aspidistra and more inventions than James Bond's Q could ever conceive -- and is endlessly fascinating in consequence. No better book about the mad arcana of belligerence has ever been written."--Simon Winchestershow more

About Freelance Writer and Broadcaster Nicholas Rankin

Nicholas Rankin is the author of Telegram from Guernica and Dead Man's Chest. He lives in London.show more

Rating details

483 ratings
3.63 out of 5 stars
5 18% (86)
4 40% (195)
3 31% (148)
2 10% (48)
1 1% (6)
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