Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

( 9 )

Overview

The explosive story of America's secret post-WWII science programs, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51

In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich's scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis' once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to ...

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Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

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Overview

The explosive story of America's secret post-WWII science programs, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51

In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich's scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis' once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to bring Hitler's scientists and their families to the United States.

Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War?

Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including previously unseen papers made available by direct descendants of the Third Reich's ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and dossiers discovered in government archives and at Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into a startling, complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secret of the twentieth century.

In this definitive, controversial look at one of America's most strategic, and disturbing, government programs, Jacobsen shows just how dark government can get in the name of national security.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Wendy Lower
Operation Paperclip is not the first unveiling of the program…But Jacobsen's book is the first on the topic to appear since President Clinton signed the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act in 1998, which pushed through the declassification of American intelligence records, including the F.B.I., Army intelligence and C.I.A. files of German agents, scientists and war criminals. Jacobsen's access to these documents, along with her research in various special collections and her interviews with former intelligence personnel and relatives of the scientists, make her study the most in-depth account yet of the lives of Paperclip recruits and their American counterparts.
Publishers Weekly
★ 12/09/2013
As comprehensive as it is critical, this latest exposé from Jacobsen (Area 51) is perhaps her most important work to date. Though Americans are quick to remember the United States’ heroic feats in WWII, they tend to be more amnesic (or allergic) toward some of our nation’s shadier activities in the effort—one of which seems to have been forgotten altogether. For just as some Nazis awaited trial at Nuremburg, others—namely prominent, potentially useful scientists—were secretly smuggled into the country by the U.S. government to help prepare for an ostensibly impending “total war” with the Soviets. In fact, even an appearance at Nuremburg didn’t rule out a trip to the States. Needless to say, what to do with potentially useful war criminals posed an unusual predicament. If such a claim sounds dubious, Jacobsen persuasively shows that it in fact happened and aptly frames the dilemma in terms of “Who would be hired, and who would be hanged?” Rife with hypocrisy, lies, and deceit, Jacobsen’s story explores a conveniently overlooked bit of history the significance of which continues to resonate in the national security issues of today. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Important, superbly written.... Jacobsen's book allows us to explore these questions with the ultimate tool: hard evidence. She confronts us with the full extent of Paperclip's deal with the devil, and it's difficult to look away."—Matt Damsker, USA Today (4 stars)

"With Annie Jacobsen's OPERATION PAPERCLIP for the first time the enormity of the effort has been laid bare. The result is a book that is at once chilling and riveting, and one that raises substantial and difficult questions about national honor and security...This book is a remarkable achievement of investigative reporting and historical writing."—Boston Globe

"As comprehensive as it is critical, this latest expose from Jacobsen is perhaps her most important work to date.... Jacobsen persuasively shows that it in fact happened and aptly frames the dilemma.... Rife with hypocrisy, lies, and deceit, Jacobsen's story explores a conveniently overlooked bit of history." — Publishers Weekly (starred)

"The most in depth account yet of the lives of Paperclip recruits and their American counterparts.... Jacobsen deftly untangles the myriad German and American agencies and personnel involved...more gripping and skillfully rendered are the stories of American and British officials who scoured defeated Germany for Nazi scientists and their research."—New York Times Book Review

"Chilling, compelling, and comprehensive accounting.... Jacobsen's impressive book plumbs the dark depths of this postwar recruiting and shows the historical truths behind the space race and postwar US dominance. Highly recommended for readers in World War II history, espionage, government cover-ups, or the Cold War." — Library Journal (starred)

"Darkly picaresque.... Jacobsen persuasively argues that the mindset of the former Nazi scientists who ended up working for the American government may have exacerbated Cold War paranoia."—New Yorker

"An engrossing and deeply disturbing exposé that poses ultimate questions of means versus ends." — Booklist (starred)

"Annie Jacobsen's Operation Paperclip is a superb investigation, showing how the U.S. government recruited the Nazis' best scientists to work for Uncle Sam on a stunning scale. Sobering and brilliantly researched." — Alex Kershaw, author of The Liberator

"Throughout, the author delivers harrowing passages of immorality, duplicity and deception, as well as some decency and lots of high drama. How Dr. Strangelove came to America and thrived, told in graphic detail." — Kirkus Reviews

"[A] gripping, always disquieting story of a nation forced to trade principle for power.... Jacobsen gives us many vivid moments.... OPERATION PAPERCLIP takes its place in the annals of Cold War literature, one more proof that moral purity and great power can seldom coexist."—Chris Tucker, The Dallas Morning News"Jacobsen uses newly released documents, court transcripts, and family-held archives to give the fullest accounting yet of this endeavor." — The New York Post

"Doggedly researched." — Parade

Library Journal
09/01/2013
Most of us know that German scientists, valued for their knowledge despite associations with war crimes, were spirited into this country post-World War II, but Jacobsen's thoroughly researched account reveals the full extent of Operation Paperclip, as it was called. From the author of the New York Times best seller Area 51; with a 75,000-copy first printing.
Library Journal
★ 02/01/2014
At the climax of World War II in Europe, the U.S. government searched for the intellectual bounty of the Third Reich even as the Allied services were hunting Nazi war criminals. So begins this chilling, compelling, and comprehensive accounting by Jacobsen (Area 51) of one of the most secretive of 20th-century U.S. intelligence programs. No, it wasn't a secret that German scientists and engineers came to America after the war, but the extent of their loyalty to the Nazi cause was kept hidden. As Jacobsen ably recounts, these men, including rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and physician Walter Schreiber, were ardent Nazis who participated in war crimes including experiments on humans and the use of slave labor to accomplish their goals for Hitler. They were then recruited by both Soviets and Americans to continue their work during the onset of the Cold War. The U.S. government turned a blind eye to these men's atrocities, helped them avoid justice at Nuremberg, and paid them considerably. In return? Among other things, America won the space race. Built upon archival records, court transcripts, declassified documents, and interviews, Jacobsen's impressive book plumbs the dark depths of this postwar recruiting and shows the historical truths behind the space race and postwar U.S. dominance. VERDICT Highly recommended for readers in World War II history, espionage, government cover-ups, or the Cold War. [See Prepub Alert, 9/1/13.]—Evan M. Anderson, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-14
The story of how perpetrators of World War II were treated as spoils of war, brought to light with new information in this diligent report. Generations after Germany was defeated, disturbing revelations about the recruitment of Nazi scientists--Operation Paperclip--still appear. Jacobsen (Area 51: The Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, 2011) expands previous material with the use of documents recently released under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as personal interviews, memoirs, trial evidence and obscure dossiers. It's not a pleasant story. Weapons of mass destruction were born at war's end, and in Europe, scientists were victors' prizes, reparations for conquerors who coveted their special talents. They were Luftwaffe doctors, rocket scientists, managers and chemists working on all sorts of bad science for bad ends. Japan was still to be defeated, and national security required their services; it was important for business. However, the primary reason posited as the Cold War developed was: If we don't get those wizard warriors, Russia will. As such, the once–high-ranking Nazis who used slave labor to fabricate V2 rockets, who killed concentration camp prisoners in cruel experiments and who sought to weaponize bubonic plague became the property of the United States. Of the many hundreds of Paperclip scientists, many were convicted war criminals. Former enemies became American citizens; rewarded for their work, they lived the American dream. The operation took paperwork, and Jacobsen, in her research of the documents, found countless instances of mendacity. She provides snapshots of the scores of villains and the few heroes involved in collusion of the Nazis and U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Throughout, the author delivers harrowing passages of immorality, duplicity and deception, as well as some decency and lots of high drama. How Dr. Strangelove came to America and thrived, told in graphic detail.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316221047
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 18,587
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Annie Jacobsen was a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine and is the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Nazi Germany is always a fascinating topic. This book brilliantl

    Nazi Germany is always a fascinating topic. This book brilliantly details the U.S. government’s mission to acquire Nazi scientists after WWII. It is well researched and very had to put down. High marks!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted March 17, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    A thought provoking, mind-blowing page turner that will make you

    A thought provoking, mind-blowing page turner that will make you re-consider everything you thought you knew about America's technological advancements during the Cold War.
    Did America recruit NAZI war criminals to help build the Cold War era Defense, Intelligence and Space Military Industrial Complex. Yes, indeed.
    Did America's scientific, intelligence and military establishment fall into a moral quagmire in its efforts to hide this truth from the public. Probably.
    Worse yet was the subtle way in which the NAZI's Machiavellian approach to experiments on human subjects was put into practice by American researchers in our effort to stay ahead of the Soviet Union.
    But the book also does a great job of capturing the human interest side of the story whether of NAZI scientists, their families, their surviving victims, and the flawed American military and scientific leaders responsible for their fate. 
    I recommend this book to all those with an interest in WWII/Cold War History, NBC operations, intelligence operations, the space program, conspiracy and investigative journalism.
    Operation Paperclip will certainly become the standard reference work on this subject.
    This is the third and by far best book by investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen. 
    But I also enjoyed and recommend her previous books, Terror in the Skies (especially given the mystery of Malaysian Airlines flight 370) and Area 51.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review

    No text was provided for this review

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Highly recommended

    I thought the book was well written, informative, objective in reporting and a story that every American should know.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Great Reading: Fascinating story of Nazi Scientists and their evil and good contributions to society. raises a lot of moral questions as to the US using them.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2014

    This was a fascinating read. For anyone with an interest in scie

    This was a fascinating read. For anyone with an interest in science, history, or WWII, this one is for you. Jacobsen has managed to dig up Operation Paperclip and present it to us in a can't-put-down way. I would have given five stars, but I occasionally felt as though the narrative wandered. Really enjoyed this.

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  • Posted April 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    What no reviewer seems to have pointed out is the apparent super

    What no reviewer seems to have pointed out is the apparent superiority of German universities such as those at Goettingen and Tuebingen, whose scientific graduates, while no more intelligent than their U.S. or British counterparts, were light-years ahead in military applications of physics and chemistry. No other country's scientists were capable of producing the V-2 rockets or -- Sputnik's German creators not excepted -- satellites. German exchange students in our high schools regularly report that they aren't being taught anything that they haven't already learned. John J. McCloy's view that it was preferable to employ even virulently anti-Semitic Nazi scientists in our military-industrial complex rather than allow the Soviets to reap the advantages of their contributions is arguably cogent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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