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What do set design, sound effects, and showmanship have to do with winning World War II? Meet the Ghost Army that played a surprising role in helping to deceive — and defeat — the Nazis.
In his third book about deception during war, Paul B. Janeczko focuses his lens on World War II and the operations carried out by the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops, aka the Ghost Army. This remarkable unit included actors, camouflage experts, sound engineers, painters, and set designers who used their skills to secretly and systematically replace fighting units — fooling the Nazi army into believing what their eyes and ears told them, even though the sights and sounds of tanks and war machines and troops were entirely fabricated. Follow the Twenty-Third into Europe as they play a dangerous game of enticing the German army into making battlefield mistakes by using sonic deceptions, inflatable tanks, pyrotechnics, and camouflage in more than twenty operations. From the Normandy invasion to the crossing of the Rhine River, the men of the Ghost Army — several of whom went on to become famous artists and designers after the war — played an improbable role in the Allied victory.
About the Author
Paul B. Janeczko (1945–2019) was a poet and teacher who edited numerous award-winning poetry anthologies for young people, including A Poke in the I, A Kick in the Head, A Foot in the Mouth, and The Death of the Hat, all of which were illustrated by Chris Raschka; Firefly July, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; and The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems, illustrated by Richard Jones. He also wrote Worlds Afire; Requiem: Poems of the Terezín Ghetto; Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing; Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War; The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles, a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults; and Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis.
For those with a mental map of the war, this book will provide delightful details of a very specialized and secret group. Biographical sketches of many of the members of the Twenty-Third Special Troops are included as well as brief sidebars detailing related topics. Plentiful photographs and maps are included throughout...military history lovers will find much to appreciate in this extensive retelling of a skillful deception that helped end World War II.
—School Library Journal
In profiling the 23rd, Janeczko has clearly done prodigious research, and the result is an extraordinarily detailed history that sometimes offers a dramatic account of field operations...for teens who enjoy reading about war, this will be a bountiful gift.
Secret Soldiers by Paul B. Janeczko (Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War) brings to light a little-known element of the Allied war effort...Janeczko intersperses his narrative with photographs and mini biographies of the men in the unit. Secret Soldiers is enlightening and intriguing, a must-read for young military buffs.
—Shelf Awareness for Readers