Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis
During World War II, U.S. military officers conceived of a "deception unit" that could assist in the war effort. The group used radio signals, recordings, inflatable prop military vehicles and other special effects to mimic the movements and actions of other groups. The men in the unit risked their lives to convince the Nazis of a larger presence, an alternate attack plan or simply to cover the retreat of a weary company while another was en route to take its place. Often staging their scenes near the front lines of the war, the men--actors, camouflage experts, sound engineers, painters and set designers among them--knew their missions were dangerous and that the cost of discovery would be devastating; they "were ordered to say nothing of their exploits and accomplishments for fifty years."
Secret Soldiers by Paul B. Janeczko (Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War) brings to light a little-known element of the Allied war effort: the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops and the unusual yet critical part it played in World War II. Whether attempting to trick the Nazis about the details of the impending D-Day invasion or masquerading as another troop to allow it to slip into an alternate position, the missions of the Twenty-Third were varied and high tension. 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. --Kyla Paterno, former children's and YA book buyer