An exciting, suspenseful tale of international intrigue.



An elegant presentation of Winston Churchill’s special guerrilla operations force, which consistently met the dirty exigencies of war.

Prolific British author Milton (When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History's Unknown Chapters, 2016, etc.) manages to offer a fresh take on the undercover work of a small specialty unit of the British War Office, begun as MI(R) before becoming the Special Operations Executive, or known simply as Baker Street. Led by the canny Scotsman and former Indian Army officer Colin Gubbins and the engineering genius Millis Jefferis, this group of “pirates” was carefully selected for their mental and physical toughness for under-the-radar guerrilla operations to trip up the swiftly advancing Germans in Norway, France, and, potentially, Britain. Using unconventional, powerful new inventions of destruction, such as a “monstrous hydraulic digger” engineered by Cecil Clarke, the so-called limpet mine, L-Delay fuse, and the anti–U-boat Hedgehog mortar, the unit employed effective sabotage against the German war machine. Milton engagingly re-creates some of these spectacular operations, including the destruction of the Pessac, France, transformer station (Operation Josephine B), the dismantling of the Normandie Dock, where the formidable Tirpitz was moored, and the strike on the Norsk Hydro station in Norway, which eliminated the possibility of Hitler using heavy water for atomic weapons. Although assassination was officially frowned upon in Whitehall, Gubbins’ unit worked with Czech intelligence to execute the ruthless Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. Milton sets up each of these extraordinary sabotages in skillful fashion, underscoring the training, planning, and personnel involved. Gubbins eventually had highly trained agents all over the continent and, once the Americans were involved, had to compete with the work of William “Wild Bill” Donovan. The author also introduces some of the key women in the operation, including Joan Bright.

An exciting, suspenseful tale of international intrigue.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-11902-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?