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September 09 , 2009

Churchill's Wizards

The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945


The story of how the British really won two world wars - by conning the Kaiser, hoaxing Hitler and using brains to outwit brawn. By June 1940, most of Europe had fallen to the Nazis and Britain stood alone. To protect itself, the nation fell back on cunning and camouflage. With Winston Churchill in charge, the British bluffed their way out of trouble - lying, pretending and dressing up in order to survive. The British had developed this uncommon talent during the trench and desert fighting of the First World War, when writers and artists created elaborate camouflages and fiendish propaganda. So successful were these deceptions they gave rise to the German belief that they hadn't been beaten fairly - in which case why not 'have a second go'? By the Second World War, the British were masters of the art. Churchill adored stratagems, ingenious devices and special forces: pretend German radio stations broadcast outrageous British propaganda in German. British geniuses broke German secret codes and eavesdropped on their messages. Every German spy in Britain was captured and many were used to send back false information to their controllers. Forged documents misled their Intelligence. Bogus wireless traffic from entire phantom armies, dummy airfields with model planes, disguised ships and inflatable rubber tanks created a vital illusion of strength. Culminating in the spectacular misdirection that was so essential to the success of D-Day in 1944, Churchill's Wizards is a thrilling work of popular military history. Above all, Nicholas Rankin reveals the true stories of those brave and creative mavericks who helped win what Churchill called 'the war of the Unknown Warriors'.
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