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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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on 8 October 2017
Personally I am averse to the way this book chops up what people have to say. I would far rather that we got to know exactly what they said rather than having little snippets here and there, Very disappointing for me, anyway
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on 8 December 2017
Exactly as described. Despatched promptly and no problems at all
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on 26 October 2010
a superb and endlessly fascinating first hand compilation of interviews with SOE veterans round the world. Bailey brings all the testimonies to life talking to all involved who spoke of their work right from the end of the war until the present day.
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on 22 June 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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on 18 June 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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on 15 August 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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on 23 June 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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on 15 June 2011
I knew very little about the work of SOE before I read this book.
This book is a fascinating read using the personal accounts of SOE personnel and the various clandestine operations they took part in during WW2.
They took part in operations in Norway, France, Greece, The Balkans, North Africa and the Far East etc.
A must read book if you want to know more about the work of this secretive organisation during WW2.
A real eye-opener, they knew full well that they would not be treated as ordinary POWs if caught, execution being a very real threat!
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on 26 October 2009
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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