The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II

The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II

4.3 24
by Patrick K. O'Donnell
     
 

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Like a scene from Where Eagles Dare, a small team of American spies parachutes into Italy behind enemy lines. Their orders: link up with local partisans and sabotage the well-guarded Brenner Pass—the Nazis’ crucial supply route through the Alps—thereby bringing the German war effort in Italy to a grinding halt.

Overview

Like a scene from Where Eagles Dare, a small team of American spies parachutes into Italy behind enemy lines. Their orders: link up with local partisans and sabotage the well-guarded Brenner Pass—the Nazis’ crucial supply route through the Alps—thereby bringing the German war effort in Italy to a grinding halt.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Military historian Brenner (We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah) brings a cinematic style and considerable expertise to this engrossing tale of a behind-enemy-lines mission during the last year of WWII. Conducted by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the predecessor to the modern CIA), the plan was to cut "a carotid artery of the Third Reich," the infamous Brenner Pass through the mountains between Austria and Italy, leaving the German army in Southern Italy isolated. Arguably one of the war's most dangerous operations, it was led two OSS operatives who never met: Stephen Hall, a combat engineer trained in demolitions, who conceived and sold the plan (and himself) to the newly formed OSS; and Howard Chappell, a Fort Benning paratroop trainer recruited by the OSS to train the team of "shadow soldiers" who would infiltrate Nazi Germany under Hall's command. Unfortunately, the main theater of operations had shifted to France by the summer of 1944, and the team was shorted critical logistical support. With thorough research and new interviews, O'Donnell provides an insightful look into the internal struggles of the burgeoning OSS as well as a real-life espionage adventure of bravery, ingenuity and sacrifice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

O'Donnell writes of the sabotage team that was dropped into German-occupied Italy in 1944 with the mission of disrupting transport for the retreating Wehrmacht. Things didn't go smoothly, but the help of various partisan groups allowed the team, though reduced by death and capture, to operate for several weeks and to coordinate effectively sabotage and ambush attacks. This exciting narrative of war at the personal level will be a good supplement to subject collections.


—Edwin B. Burgess
Kirkus Reviews
The story of two teams of OSS commandos dropped behind enemy lines to cut off Nazi transportation routes through the rugged Italian Alps. Military historian O'Donnell (We Were One, 2006, etc.) once again presents multiple perspectives from various sides of the battle lines, making use of diaries, letters, radio transmissions and reports, as well as hundreds of hours of interviews he conducted with participants. Among the significant actors were a pair of murderous Gestapo officers, a charismatic Italian partisan, a mysterious Swiss-born countess working as a French spy and a colorful OSS recruit whose resume included stints as a cook, a maitre d', a soldier for Franco and a deserter from the French Foreign Legion. Most significant of all were newly minted OSS agents Capt. Stephen Hall and Capt. Howard Chappell, young, tough soldiers who had nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. In 1943, Hall wrote a letter to the OSS outlining a plan to parachute into the Italian Alps with enough supplies and explosives to be a one-man wrecking crew. His target: the high-mountain Brenner Pass rails and roads linking Austria with Italy, the Nazi war machine's lifeblood for supplies. Sent with a small team to make contact with Italian partisan fighters, Hall began his commando operations under the noses of German troops scouring the land in search of saboteurs. Chappell's team set out to link with Hall's, even as Hall began a solo move on Brenner Pass after the Nazis tightened their noose around the partisans. The endgame to this cat-and-mouse hinged on who got to whom first. O'Donnell clearly enjoys narrating war's gristle along with its meat; small successes and failures ground the story in thereality of sabotage, reconnaissance, capture and escape, torture and murder. Along the way, the participants' motivations, allegiances, thoughts and actions come alive in vigorous, exciting prose. A taut real-life thriller.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306818417
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
08/25/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
680,995
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Patrick K. O’Donnell is the award-winning author of five books, including the highly acclaimed account of the Battle of Fallujah, We Were One. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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The Brenner Assignment 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Goumierswerehardcore More than 1 year ago
I have been on a WWII reading kick lately, I have read both of Rick Atkinsons WWII books, Band of Brother's, Shadows in the Jungle, and The Brenner Assignment. This has been the most riveting of the books I have read latley. When I got to page 160ish I couldn't put it down, the story of behind the line espionage and and missions carried out to shut down the Brenner Pass is what movies are made out of. The story is amazing, the writing stlye is very good (simplistic, compared to Atkinson's mastery of the English language) I have read this book a few month's ago and I am now coming back to write a review of it, should say something about it. Don't hesitate to read it, it's a must read book.
BillA More than 1 year ago
One of the best I've ever read of this genre; and I've read a lot of them. Well-written, keeps you interested at every turn. A remarkable story of bravery and intrigue in WWII. Don't miss it. You won't be able to put it down.
BillCA More than 1 year ago
A very exciting and well written story from World War II. The book was extremely well researched bring forth the details of this exciting story from those who lived it. A story of real American heroes. Truly a difficult to put down book, or in my case, to put down my NOOK.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an incredible read. Filled with a cast of amazing characters. You feel like you are there. I've had an interest in WWII history for many years and this is one of the great stories of the war. This book should be a movie.
P-B-Raju More than 1 year ago
We have all read and seen many "war mission" books and films in the last few decades, especially by Alistair Maclean, Cornelius Ryan and Frederick Forsythe. Most of them were fictional creations by these authors based on some real incidents. Here is a book that is well researched and written with great command of the subject, "The Brenner Assignment" by Patrick K. O'Donnell; a true WWII mission in the Dolomites between Austria and Italy by the Brenner Pass, is full of the igredients that reads like a great work of fiction. Begining with heroic characters, base preparations, deployment, intrigue, frustrations, tragedies, ambushes, brutality, politics, manhunts, recue and bravery bordering on insanity and dedication depicting patriotism is a fantastic series of events that leads to victory with irony. I sincerely hope this thrilling and poignant read gets optioned out, by hopefully Director Ridley Scott, as he is the one to pull off this kind of a mission with its atmospheric quality. This book is military history at its best in terse prose capturing all the danger, actions and the personal ironies involved. I can't help but think that it will be the best "war mission" film if made well without cutting corners. I recommend this book very sincerely. Raju Peddada
Trisha-Ann More than 1 year ago
Interesting and informative
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author does a wonderful job of intertwining the main characters. Fantastically written account of little known behind the lines activities in the Italian Alps during WWII. I couldn't put it down.
KilroyWasHere-org More than 1 year ago
The Brenner Pass through the Alps between Italy and Austria has been a route of conquest and commerce since before the Romans. The last combat took place there in the 1940s when Germany, the Allies (US OSS), and the Italian partisans (the communist Garibaldi Brigades, Giustizia e Libertà Brigades, and socialist Matteotti Brigades) fought the last year of WWII. They fought to stop supply to the Nazis, to cut off the retreat from the Nazis and to start the civil war in Italy.

This is the untold story of brutality, intrigue, combat, and even a little romance. You'll like it. I did!
TS_ISABEL More than 1 year ago
Is amazing how the author writes this book, his passion, trips and interest for write the untold war history, the history is intriguing about the missions, combats and escapes in the mountains in Italy in the world war II.
Recommended.

Isabel.
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CaspianSub More than 1 year ago
This book has everything you want in a war story: special ops, mountain escapes, bands of partisans, an exotic countess, close combat, etc.

And since the action is in Italy, it may have a fresh feeling to readers who are more familiar with the Western or Eastern fronts.

The action is excellent and the characters are memorable.

Strongly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This untold story of a secret mission behind enemy lines captivates from the start. Not only are the characters intriguing but the inter-twining plots are captivating. The action makes you want to picture the scenes unfold as you read them. A movie version is definitely in order.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the information of the book is quite interesting- the plot to cut the supply lines off late in the war, I thought the writing was very lacking. Using far too may repeating descriptions, and far to cut up. There were two basic missions, and going back and forth between the two until one was fatefully ended made it quite hard to read- especially since the two were related only since one was going to meet up with the other to achieve the main goal. The built up tense prose was also not needed- by implying that being a POW for a few weeks was anything like being one for many years was weak. I'm not quite finished with the book, yet, but will finish to learn something- not because it's a good book or the writing is all that great. It's too bad, as this had a lot of potential.