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

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Overview


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, Rankin offers a lively and comprehensive history of how Britain bluffed, tricked, and spied its way to victory in two world wars. As he 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 British used craft and cunning to help win the most devastating wars in human history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195387049
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Pages: 466
  • Sales rank: 499,751
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1 The War of Nerves 3

2 The Nature of Camouflage 24

3 Engineering Opinion 34

4 Hiding and Sniping 49

5 Deception in the Dardanelles 60

6 Steel Trees 77

7 Guile and Guerrilla 94

8 The Twice-promised Land 109

9 A Dazzle of Zebras 125

10 Lying for Lloyd George 142

11 Deceivers Deceived 160

12 Wizards Of WW2 177

13 Curtain Up 201

14 Winston is Back 211

15 Hiding the Silver 226

16 'A Great Blow Between the Eyes' 233

17 Commando Dagger 246

18 British Resistance 254

19 Fire Over England 278

20 Radio Propaganda 285

21 'A' Force: North Africa 312

22 Impersonations 336

23 The Garden of Forking Paths 353

24 The Hinge of Fate 360

25 Mincemeat 373

26 The Double 384

27 Overlord and Fortitude 392

28 V for Vergeltung 409

Epilogue 414

Source Notes 421

Index 445

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 6, 2011

    great story

    A great recording of the estsblishment and advancement of British military deception.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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