Customer Review

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars And Your Point Is?, 9 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Secret War: An Inside History of Special Operations in the Second World War (Hardcover)
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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