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Most Secret War: British Scientific Intelligence 1939-1945 Hardcover – 1 Jan 1978


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 556 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton; 1st edition (1 Jan. 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241897467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241897461
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 16.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Reginald Victor Jones was an English physicist and scientific military intelligence expert who played an important role in the defence of Britain in the Second World War. He died in 1997. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By "tricky707" on 16 July 2003
Format: Paperback
I first purchased this book (an earlier edition) over 15 years ago and still read it form time to time. Mr.R.V. Jones in my view was a very clever man who fully understood the on-coming threat posed by the Germans. If there had ever been the right man for the job,(R.V.Jones) it was him. The book might read that he was the only person working for the Government who fully understand what scientific advances the Germans were making at the time, but you will notice he goes out of his way to mention everybody involved in his work. He also adds some comical notes about his early experiments which brings out his "I'm only human" side of him. By the time you have finished the book, you feel as if you have been there with him, through the long struggle with the British Establishment to accept the threat the Germans posed!
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By eli_perl@hotmail.com on 16 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an unusually interesting and important review of the development of radar and electronic warfawe in WWII. It was written by the person who is considered, and rightly so, the father of modern electronic warfare, and who had personally made a key contribution to its development. In the turn of the 21st century, it is astonishing to see that although R. V. Jones had acted in WWII with technology of those days, most of the concepts and techniques dealt with by him still hold true to this very day. This is a rare monument to the group of people who had made an enormous contribution, through their most secret effort, to the defeat of the Nazi beast. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of this field.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 May 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books to be read by anyone interested in the application of science. Through the stories about how information was gathered, analysed and finally brought together to create something useful. His application of Occams razor is something I have - in turn - applied over and over again to produce a useful result.
If you are interested in the history of science and technology, this book is for you. Don't be put off by the size (600+ pages in my paperback edition!) this is an excellent read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jerz Jurkiewicz on 20 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was so pleased that Penguin decided to re-release this book. It is a very, very good book and undoubtedly the best book I have read on the subject of anticipating the Germans' scientific advancements during the Second World War. A very clever man, R V Jones is able to explain with utmost clarity, the secret world of his and many others', research. The daily anticipation of their results and whether these could affect the next bombing raids, for example, is clearly explained and adds suspense to the book. It covers not just the successes but also the disappointments. The development of radar and infrared technology, how this was achieved and the "Battle of the Beams" are amazing stories in their own right. I have lost count the number of times I have re-read the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Belino on 11 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very very good read. It is really a personal account of the leading scientist at the time. The most interesting fact, for me, was that although German radar was far more advanced, and more over-engineered than ours, they didn't really put this to their advantage. The British 'make-do-hands-on' attitude was actually a far greater advantage that was far more flexible and able to respond more quickly as Germany changed tactics and equipment. RV Jones explains how he struggled against our own government 'treacle' to maintain these methods and prove the saving thousands of lives; even having to 'slam the desk' once in front of Churchill himself. The other most interesting, for me, is the chapters after the war where the UK, USA and Russia were fighting amongst themselves in order to 'pick and poach' the German brains and 'procure' equipment in the war aftermath.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Martin L. Harman on 7 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is my favourite book from many written describing scientific developments in the second world war. It covers a very broad scope and will be indispensible to the scientific historian and lay reader interested in electronic developments in radar, navigation aids, encryption, electronic warfare and communications during the period 1935 to 1945. Dr RV Jones was at the summit of a huge pyramid of secret research and development by a dedicated band of research engineers and scientists employed in the British scientific civil service, universities and industry during WWII much of whose efforts are still unrecognised today, but from which most of our modern electronic systems that we now take for granted first saw the light of day. The book is also a personal account of his life and the conflicts and difficulties which he encountered in this most challenging of roles.

I had the good fortune to meet Professor Jones in 1984 at Southampton University when he was guest speaker on the subject "Irony in Scientific Endeavour" and he kindly signed my very battered copy of his book. It is now a treasured possession.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By a Flynn on 22 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
By all means order this original hardback rather than the far more expensive paperback reprint.
R V Jones became famous when Churchill, in Volume III of his "Second World War", credited him with discovering the Luftwaffe's use of adapted Lorenz navigation beams to pinpoint night bombing targets in Britain. Jones explains this in depth, and includes his own version of his various meetings with Churchill. He goes on to discuss the discovery of German Freya and Wurzburg radar, culminating in the Bruneval Raid in 1942 in which Commandoes brought back German radar equipment from the French coast. He also mentions the dead-end of infra-red research, with which he had started his war.
Here is a great expert at work, and in his own eloquent words. I have returned to this many times when I wanted to be crystal clear about the science, the sequence of events, and some of the key figures in wartime British radar intelligence.
This is in no way a criticism because RVJ was describing his own war, not other people's, but a more rounded view of wartime radar can be found in the books by Watson-Watt (3 Steps To Victory), E G Bowen (Radar Days) and, for the very technical, Bragg "RDF 1".
Obviously recommended.
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