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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An appreciation from the son of an SOE agent
My father was an SOE agent in the Second World War. I never knew him and had virtually no knowledge of his wartime exploits. This fascinating and carefully constructed book by Roderick Bailey, based as it is on recorded conversations held with SOE agents themselves, brings to life the experiences (from the terrifying to the hilarious) that they, and my father among them,...
Published on 23 Jun 2008 by C Paxton

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars And Your Point Is?
Some of the names of those testifying in these pages are well-known (George Millar, Francis Cammaerts, Ben Cowburn, Bickham Sweet-Escott) and one or two even world-famous (Odette Sansom --or Churchill--), others almost completely obscure. They held various jobs in that hastily-created and built organization called Special Operations Executive. The more famous people and...
Published on 9 Dec 2009 by Ian Millard


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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An appreciation from the son of an SOE agent, 23 Jun 2008
My father was an SOE agent in the Second World War. I never knew him and had virtually no knowledge of his wartime exploits. This fascinating and carefully constructed book by Roderick Bailey, based as it is on recorded conversations held with SOE agents themselves, brings to life the experiences (from the terrifying to the hilarious) that they, and my father among them, went through. The Forgotten Voices Of The Secret War has enabled me to appreciate his bravery, and be proud of him. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the extraordinairy courage of the men and women who put themselves forward for SOE operations.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding. Highly recommended., 22 Jun 2008
This superb book of secret agents' recollections is the latest in the Imperial War Museum's magnificent `Forgotten Voices' series, which draws on the museum's vast archive of original interviews with veterans. This edition tells the story of Britain's Special Operations Executive, the secret army set up in 1940 to help resistance and carry out sabotage behind enemy lines. It is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in the Second World War.

The book gripped me from start to finish. With skill and balance, Roderick Bailey has selected and structured a powerful collection of eyewitness accounts of extraordinary deeds to take your breath away. Here are stories of hand-to-hand fights with Gestapo agents in French apartments, of guerrilla fighting in the Balkans, of ambushes in the Burmese jungle. Time and again I was astonished at the courage of the young men and women who volunteered for this dangerous duty. And no one could fail to be moved by the testimonies of agents who fell into enemy hands and were sent to concentration camps.

SOE is famous for its agents in France, and `Forgotten Voices of the Secret War' contains plenty of tales from men and women who had worked with resistance there. But as the book also shows, there was much more to SOE than that. Norwegian SOE agents disrupted Hitler's atomic bomb plans. Czech agents assassinated Himmler's deputy. Dozens of Polish agents parachuted back into Poland. Other agents parachuted into the Low Countries, Denmark, Austria, Albania, Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy and fought the Japanese across the Far East. Their stories are told too.

Roderick Bailey has also done SOE a great service by raising the `voices' of instructors and staff officers at headquarters and of RAF aircrew who dropped agents behind the lines. It is also good to hear from the unsung backroom boffins who invented SOE's specialist weapons, and from the girls of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry who, among a host of important roles, manned SOE radio sets at base.

As this excellent book demonstrates, allowing gallant men and women to tell their own stories in their own words is perhaps the most powerful method of getting across the human experience of war. Highly recommended.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great compilation - one of the best in the series, 18 Jun 2008
"Forgotten Voices" is a great series of compilations of first-hand accounts from those who were directly involved in various wars and this title on the SOE by Roderick Bailey is one of the best. I found it gripping reading, and at times very moving. Learning about the experiences, thoughts, concerns etc of the very brave men and women who took part - in their own words - is fascinating and I think Bailey has done a great job in selecting the content to create a real tribute to the SOE. If you have an interest in the SOE, 2nd World War, or like me just working your way through the series it's definitely worth a read!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for those interested in the human side of war, 15 Aug 2008
I am not a huge fan of the sort of military history books that concentrate on strategy and campaigns without showing what war is really like on a human level. It's the stories people tell that catch the imagination and help us to remember what war was really like for those involved in the fighting. Rod Bailey has searched the Imperial War Museum's archives to uncover and weave together some fascinating narratives from people who operated behind enemy lines all over the world during the Second World War. If you enjoy reading first-hand accounts of adventure and bravery and want to understand the thoughts and feelings, hopes and fears of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in wartime then I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Bailey has committed to print some of the most fascinating accounts of SOE activity during the Second World War. I am sure that those who contributed to the book, all who were associated with SOE then and now, their children and families will be proud to see their stories told and added to our history of the war. I look forward to reading more in the series.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars And Your Point Is?, 9 Dec 2009
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Some of the names of those testifying in these pages are well-known (George Millar, Francis Cammaerts, Ben Cowburn, Bickham Sweet-Escott) and one or two even world-famous (Odette Sansom --or Churchill--), others almost completely obscure. They held various jobs in that hastily-created and built organization called Special Operations Executive. The more famous people and some of the obscure ones have written or been subjects of memoirs or narratives (inter alia, Horned Pigeon, No Cloak, No Dagger, Maquis, Baker Street Irregular, Odette, etc.

If there is a weakness in this book, it lies in the fact that it is hard for a theme or lineto emerge from so many short narrative pieces, but this difficult task is more or less successfully performed.

This is not the place in which to critique the role or existence of that organization. The book does not, on the whole. Neither does this book give a wholly favorable aspect to its activities; it simply relates in their own words the stories of many who served in the UK and (mostly) overseas, in France, Denmark, Albania, even places like Burma. Some do not shrink from telling of the failings of SOE either on the small scale or in terms of big picture and, while some simply say that their local connections were "splendid fellows" or the like, others are honest enough to note the riff-raff nature of many of the Resistance and Maquis (especially in France) and the cruelties meted out (sometimes by those who never "resisted" anyway) to unfortunate women unable to flee or to defend themselves after the Germans fled France in 1944.

I found the book readable and quite interesting (less so in the Balkans and Far East, reflecting my own greater interest in wartime France and northern Europe generally). Certainly a book for any serious student of S.O.E. history.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you feel rather humble!, 26 Oct 2009
By 
S. J. Mills "Sllim" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Secret War: An Inside History of Special Operations in the Second World War (Paperback)
This is obviously a collection of thoughts and adventures by many brave people who fought their own type of underground war. I found it incredible that these mostly young men and women trianed and then launched themselves out an areoplane to fight the Axis forces. Very good read and very humbling!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten Voices of the Secret War, 26 Oct 2009
By 
IAN K GLEN (Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland) - See all my reviews
I agree with most of the other reviewers. This book is extremely well put together, with a wealth of primary source anecdotes. Roderick Bailey successfully conveys the bravery of all those involved with the SOE and the important work they carried out under extreme danger and stress.
The reviewers who give only 1 star completely miss the point of this work and should be ignored.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not to expectations!, 5 July 2014
By 
Andy_atGC (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Secret War: An Inside History of Special Operations in the Second World War (Paperback)
The many 'Forgotten Voices' books are based upon recorded interviews held within the Imperial War Museum.

I had not purchased or seen any other of its titles although their existence was known and was quite unsure what to expect. In this instance, Forgotten Voices of the Secret War is a mini-encyclopaedia listing in no immediately obvious order a number of names of individuals operating within the various country or regional Sections of SOE. Individually, an entry might comprise a few brief lines or a full page summarising that person's wartime activities within or on behalf of SOE.

For various reasons, a substantial proportion of SOE's records were destroyed immediately post-War and details of its Agents' activities were effectively lost, other than those who latter chose to write their biographies - very few did. Not only are there few remaining available records, there was never a reliable list of its personnel and this book attempts to fill some of those gaps. However, as most agents were otherwise unrecorded elsewhere, a listing as that contained here may be valuable for researchers. As many readers might expect a series of stories such as those of agents such as Peter Churchill, Odette Sansom or Violette Szabo, which are among the few that are well documented, it fails rather miserably and completely.

It isn't what I had expected and it is to be returned. There is too little individual data to hold interest and too many names that are too obscure to remember.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another book of merit, 1 Jun 2014
By 
Viza - See all my reviews
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Yes certainly another read that gives you the inside stories that we have not been aware of before.
I have not finished reading it yet and although we old folk were aware of the,special operations, the personal stories
that have come out so far are amazing, it's a job to put it down.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 23 Nov 2009
By 
Mr. Pj Williams (cardiff uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Secret War: An Inside History of Special Operations in the Second World War (Paperback)
if your looking for an overview of soe this isn't for you but if you are looking to expand your knowledge about the men and women then this is for you. all in their own words, and wonderfully put together. excellent as usual in this series
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