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  • Writer's pictureKarl Sander

What I'm Reading

Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton came to me via a Goodreads Giveaway, and was grateful for the chance to read this intricate account of British covert operations in World War II. The title may be a little verbose, and maybe even a little misleading (it wasn't ACTUALLY a ministry in the conventional sense), but it accurately reflects the amount of attention Milton pays to the evolution of the various parts of this unconventional enterprise and its place within the larger British wartime government. Milton excels at balancing this look at the organization and even politics behind Britain's sabotage efforts with gripping, fast-paced accounts of specific missions. These include, among others, the neutralization of the Norsk Hydro heavy water plant (which denied Hitler the atomic bomb) and the destruction of a rail viaduct in Greece across which scores of trains traveled every day in order to supply Rommel's Afrika Korps. Through it all - the bureaucratic struggles in London, the training in Scotland, the weapons development in the English countryside, and the wilder-than-fiction missions in Occupied Europe, Milton brings all the personalities to life with a deft touch that is part biographer, part novelist. The book will of course appeal to WWII history buffs and anyone interested in covert operations, but I think it will also appeal to people who usually tend to shy away from histories. Giles Milton goes far beyond a recitation of names, dates, places, and events and makes this story - one so richly deserving of being told - come alive.

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