- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (2 Sept. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847399231
- ISBN-13: 978-1847399236
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 999,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
They Dared Return: An extraordinary true story of revenge and courage in Nazi Germany Paperback – 2 Sep 2010
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About the Author
Patrick K. O'Donnell is an historian specializing in WW2 espionage. He is the winner of the prestigious William E. Colby Award for Outstanding Military History, for his book Beyond Valor, and the highly acclaimed We Were One. He was historical advisor for the HBO series Band of Brothers and has worked for The History Channel and the BBC. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.
Top Customer Reviews
With aplomb this book tells of the daring exploits of these men, mainly concentrating on Jewish members, and how they carried out their missions and gained help from ordinary citizens, as well as tried to avoid capture. Some of what is written here you may have heard of before, such as Frederick Mayer, who although captured at the time managed to persuade the enemy to surrender a whole area to the Allies.
With photos and appendices there is a quite a bit in this slim volume that will inspire you and give you another look behind the people who helped to win the war in their own little ways. Well worth reading for anyone who is interested in the war or in cloak and dagger operations.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Patrick K. O’Donnell is the author of five previous books, and is an expert on WW II espionage and is special operations in modern times. This 2009 book has 31 chapters and an ‘Index’ in its 239 pages. Photographs are grouped together after page 124. The ‘Acknowledgments’ thank those who talked to him. Frederick Mayer was a refugee from Germany who volunteered for the draft in 1942 (Chapter 1). After basic training he was ordered to Washington for special operations (part of the OSS), along with others picked for their background (Chapter 2). Creating a centralized intelligence operation should prevent facts from falling through the cracks. Recruits were trained in Washington DC. Sterling Hayden was one of their instructors (p.16). They were sent to Europe for further experience (Chapter 4).
One test for an agent was to pose as a POW (Chapter 5). The OSS wanted to know if an “Alpine Redoubt” would allow a last stand. The Germans parachuted fake Allied agents into Austria to locate friendly locals; they were then eliminated to create terror (Chapter 7). The team landed by parachute (Chapter 10) and traveled by train (Chapter 12). Intelligence on train schedules allowed destroying supply trains (Chapter 14). Jet fighters could not be produced because of a lack of raw materials (Chapter 15). One agent was caught because he smoked American cigarettes (Chapter 17)! Fear of the Alpine Redoubt led Eisenhower to change plans (Chapter 18). One was captured and gave up the others (Chapter 20). The Gestapo arrested Fred Mayer and tortured him (Chapter 21). The radio operator was turned around and sent controlled messages (Chapter 22). His warning messages were ignored.
Another prisoner saved Fred Mayer by saying he was a top officer and those who harmed him would suffer retribution (Chapter 23). The end of the war was a few weeks away. Mayer told the mayor to declare Innsbruck an open city (Chapter 25). This was done (Chapter 26). Mayer’s efforts led to the surrender of Innsbruck and its German troops (Chapter 28). [Those are Louis d’Or gold coins (p.151), not Louis Dior.] The war came to an end in Europe (Chapter 31). The ‘Epilogue’ finishes the story. ‘Then and Now’ tell about the other people in this book. The Appendices have reports on other missions (this uses smaller fonts). The ‘Notes’ provide documentation on sources.
This is a very well-written and readable book. It only covers one part of the events of WW II. The OSS has been defined as “overseas secret service”, they did a lot more than in this book. The movie “Decision Before Dawn” tells about one operation near the end of the war. Like other movies from that era it is rarely shown on TV even though it is a good story. There are many books that tell about intelligence gathering. “The Double-Cross System” explains how the British caught German spies, “The Ultra Secret” explains how they gathered reliable information about Nazi intentions. They were printed in the early 1970s when censorship ended.
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