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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

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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