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The Ghost Army of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived the Enemy with Inflatable Tanks, Sound Effects, and Other Audacious Fakery

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In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs—including such future luminaries as Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Singer, Victor Dowd, Art Kane, and Jack Masey—landed in France to conduct a secret mission. Armed with truckloads of inflatable tanks, a massive collection of sound-effects records, and more than a few tricks up their sleeves, their job was to crea In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs—including such future luminaries as Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Singer, Victor Dowd, Art Kane, and Jack Masey—landed in France to conduct a secret mission. Armed with truckloads of inflatable tanks, a massive collection of sound-effects records, and more than a few tricks up their sleeves, their job was to create a traveling road show of deception on the battlefields of Europe, with the German Army as their audience. From Normandy to the Rhine, the 1,100 men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the Ghost Army, conjured up phony convoys, phantom divisions, and make-believe headquarters to fool the enemy about the strength and location of American units. Between missions the artists filled their duffel bags with drawings and paintings and dragged them across Europe. Every move they made was top secret and their story was hushed up for decades after the war's end. The Ghost Army of World War II is the first publication to tell the full story of how a traveling road show of artists wielding imagination, paint, and bravado saved thousands of American lives.


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In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs—including such future luminaries as Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Singer, Victor Dowd, Art Kane, and Jack Masey—landed in France to conduct a secret mission. Armed with truckloads of inflatable tanks, a massive collection of sound-effects records, and more than a few tricks up their sleeves, their job was to crea In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs—including such future luminaries as Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Singer, Victor Dowd, Art Kane, and Jack Masey—landed in France to conduct a secret mission. Armed with truckloads of inflatable tanks, a massive collection of sound-effects records, and more than a few tricks up their sleeves, their job was to create a traveling road show of deception on the battlefields of Europe, with the German Army as their audience. From Normandy to the Rhine, the 1,100 men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the Ghost Army, conjured up phony convoys, phantom divisions, and make-believe headquarters to fool the enemy about the strength and location of American units. Between missions the artists filled their duffel bags with drawings and paintings and dragged them across Europe. Every move they made was top secret and their story was hushed up for decades after the war's end. The Ghost Army of World War II is the first publication to tell the full story of how a traveling road show of artists wielding imagination, paint, and bravado saved thousands of American lives.

30 review for The Ghost Army of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived the Enemy with Inflatable Tanks, Sound Effects, and Other Audacious Fakery

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    “Rarely, if ever, has there been a group of such a few men which had so great an influence on the outcome of a major campaign.” Most students of World War II are aware of Operation Fortitude, the massive deception to mislead the Germans about the true target of the D-Day landings. Most have never heard of the brigade-sized unit who employed props, radio signals, sound and theatrics to convince the enemy that American units were where they weren’t and vice versa during the campaign after D-Day. Un “Rarely, if ever, has there been a group of such a few men which had so great an influence on the outcome of a major campaign.” Most students of World War II are aware of Operation Fortitude, the massive deception to mislead the Germans about the true target of the D-Day landings. Most have never heard of the brigade-sized unit who employed props, radio signals, sound and theatrics to convince the enemy that American units were where they weren’t and vice versa during the campaign after D-Day. Unfortunately, it occasionally also confused American units. “You have to see into the mind of your adversary. You have to create for him a misleading picture of the operation to come. And you have to sell it to him with confidence.” General Wesley Clark Drawn from personal diaries and reminisces as well as the official history of 23rd Headquarters Special troops. Excellent maps and photographs. Padded with works of artists among the troop. “On every block you can see at least one soldier surrounded by girls, leafing frantically through French-English dictionaries.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angie Thompson

    This was a very interesting story about a part of the war I've never heard about. I knew something about certain camouflage and deception operations (for example, Operation Fortitude), but a unit that actually deployed to Europe and created fake army operations in actual battle zones? Wow! I thought the author did a great job of laying things out clearly and helping me to follow along without losing me, as some nonfiction books have a way of doing. ;) And all the illustrations from the talented a This was a very interesting story about a part of the war I've never heard about. I knew something about certain camouflage and deception operations (for example, Operation Fortitude), but a unit that actually deployed to Europe and created fake army operations in actual battle zones? Wow! I thought the author did a great job of laying things out clearly and helping me to follow along without losing me, as some nonfiction books have a way of doing. ;) And all the illustrations from the talented artists that made up the camouflage part of the army were a fun bonus! The only thing I didn't enjoy about this book was the profanity that laced a number of the quotations (rather thickly at times) and some of the references to soldiers enjoying themselves in brothels, etc. I know it happened, but that still doesn't make me want to be reminded of it. :P

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This is a different type of World War II history book. I understand this book was made into a documentary film. The 23rd headquarters special troop consisted of 1,100 men who were artists, designers, sound experts and actors. They landed in France in the summer of 1944. They set about impersonating entire Army Divisions. They had 90 pound inflatable tanks, recorded sounds of trucks, tanks and other vehicles. They played there recordings over loudspeakers as it they were going through the countrys This is a different type of World War II history book. I understand this book was made into a documentary film. The 23rd headquarters special troop consisted of 1,100 men who were artists, designers, sound experts and actors. They landed in France in the summer of 1944. They set about impersonating entire Army Divisions. They had 90 pound inflatable tanks, recorded sounds of trucks, tanks and other vehicles. They played there recordings over loudspeakers as it they were going through the countryside. They also played radio “messages” with misinformation about troop movements. They also used officer impersonations to create misinformation. At times the unit protected Patton’s flank. They had all the various Divisions’ patches and were frequently having to repaint the vehicles with Division and company markings to help fool German observers. Deception has long been a tool of war; think of the Trojan horse but this is more like Hollywood goes to war. The 23rd was the first U.S. Army unit dedicated only to deception. The British have a long tradition of dedicated units. In WWII the British Unit had some very famous men such as Ian Fleming and David Nevin. The book is well written and meticulously researched. The authors had access to diaries, artist sketchbooks, on scene photographs and other first person accounts, memos, maps and other documents. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Tom Stechschulte did a good job narrating the book. Stechschulte is a film and television actor that has a successful career narrating audiobooks. I purchased the book while listening to the audiobook because the book had lots of maps, photographs and sketches.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    I thought this was a very interesting audio book. The narration was well done. I could not believe that they could really pull off the things they did, but from the account, it seems that it was very successful and an important part of defeating the Germans in WWII. It was really an astonishing feat, repeated over and over. I liked the stories about the men and the people that they met, and what happened to them later in life. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in WWII stories.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    I don't know. There are things I want to say but can't. So... This is a story from WW2. I'm glad the story has been recorded ... I just don't think it warrants the amount of attention it gets. The story of the breaking of the German codes at Bletchley Park, that's a big story. The story of Japanese American GIs who fought in Europe, huge. The female pilots and mechanics who worked on airplanes, that's a story. This... Not so much. They made a contribution but the most noteworthy thing I can say abou I don't know. There are things I want to say but can't. So... This is a story from WW2. I'm glad the story has been recorded ... I just don't think it warrants the amount of attention it gets. The story of the breaking of the German codes at Bletchley Park, that's a big story. The story of Japanese American GIs who fought in Europe, huge. The female pilots and mechanics who worked on airplanes, that's a story. This... Not so much. They made a contribution but the most noteworthy thing I can say about this unit is what they did was unusual.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jack Cheng

    A coffee table book that you will want to read. Another of my rare 5 star reviews! This is an art book about World War II, or a military history book about art. The Ghost Army was a special unit tasked with deceiving the enemy, in this case the Nazis. They went into action just before D-Day and then worked in liberated France, Luxembourg and eventually the German countryside. The unit had four parts: radio men who imitated other operators to give false signals they knew the Germans would intercep A coffee table book that you will want to read. Another of my rare 5 star reviews! This is an art book about World War II, or a military history book about art. The Ghost Army was a special unit tasked with deceiving the enemy, in this case the Nazis. They went into action just before D-Day and then worked in liberated France, Luxembourg and eventually the German countryside. The unit had four parts: radio men who imitated other operators to give false signals they knew the Germans would intercept; audio men who recorded and then remixed and broadcast the sounds of tanks, trucks, pontoon bridges and even men cursing to fool local audiences; visual artists who created inflatable tanks, trucks and planes, drove bulldozers around to leave tracks all to fool aerial reconaissance; and a unit of armed men to protect them, because after all, these guys were on or near the front line trying to intimidate the Nazis with tanks made out of rubber. It was all top secret and funny and exciting and it's only more amazing because it's true. Some of the artists involved included future fashion designer Bill Blass, modernist painter Ellsworth Kelly and Arthur Singer who painted the Birds of the States series of postage stamps. The book is beautifully designed and full of archival photographs and documents, and especially wonderful, the sketches in pencil, ink and watercolor that the men made at the time (these guys were artists and couldn't help themselves). Chapters are relatively short and the prose is crystal clear. Wonderful, beautiful book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    A decent topic. Not enough time is spent on the campaigns or the technology. Instead, there are long lists of dry biographical detail. But the characters aren't developed enough to call this a character drama, so I don't really care about the biographic sketches. The author sensationalizes things too much for my tastes. Each chapter describes "perhaps the most important battle" -- it feels like watching a drama/documentary on TV. With regard to the actual effect of the military technique, the boo A decent topic. Not enough time is spent on the campaigns or the technology. Instead, there are long lists of dry biographical detail. But the characters aren't developed enough to call this a character drama, so I don't really care about the biographic sketches. The author sensationalizes things too much for my tastes. Each chapter describes "perhaps the most important battle" -- it feels like watching a drama/documentary on TV. With regard to the actual effect of the military technique, the book glosses over the opinions of actual historians and skips to quoting at length people who were clearly biased. There are a few different sources used for the material, but not enough to give me the impression that this is deeply-researched or synthesizes many different viewpoints. A better fiction book would have been a historical fiction of a single person in the unit, telling the war through his eyes. A better nonfiction book would have researched the German opinion of these matters -- surely there must be some surviving records that show whether the Germans bought the deception?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen A. Wyle

    The story of the "Ghost Army" is fascinating and inspiring. I frequently stopped and went looking for someone to whom I could read the latest anecdote. The writing is straightforward, adequate to the task. It's the subject matter that makes the book. Since so many of the members of these units were visual artists, the book includes many paintings and drawings these men made at the time. There are also letters and other documents -- which would probably be easier to read in the paperback than in my The story of the "Ghost Army" is fascinating and inspiring. I frequently stopped and went looking for someone to whom I could read the latest anecdote. The writing is straightforward, adequate to the task. It's the subject matter that makes the book. Since so many of the members of these units were visual artists, the book includes many paintings and drawings these men made at the time. There are also letters and other documents -- which would probably be easier to read in the paperback than in my Kindle edition.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    I always knew that there was a ghost army built around Patton as a ruse for the Normandy invasion. However, I never realized that this went on throughout the France and Germany push. Interesting so many talented and later famous men participated in the secret unit. It's always enlightening to learn some thing totally new on WWII. A quick and enjoyable read. I always knew that there was a ghost army built around Patton as a ruse for the Normandy invasion. However, I never realized that this went on throughout the France and Germany push. Interesting so many talented and later famous men participated in the secret unit. It's always enlightening to learn some thing totally new on WWII. A quick and enjoyable read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    The Ghost Army is a breezy, mostly oral and visual history, of one of the strangest units of World War II. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops' mission was one of comprehensive deception, using a few hundred men to simulate armored divisions and other heavy units. Using a combination of inflatable 'tanks', giant loudspeakers playing tape of real armored formations, radio units capable of mimicking other formations, and a bottom-up initiative called 'atmosphere', where men would essentially LARP The Ghost Army is a breezy, mostly oral and visual history, of one of the strangest units of World War II. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops' mission was one of comprehensive deception, using a few hundred men to simulate armored divisions and other heavy units. Using a combination of inflatable 'tanks', giant loudspeakers playing tape of real armored formations, radio units capable of mimicking other formations, and a bottom-up initiative called 'atmosphere', where men would essentially LARP as officers from the units they were mimicking, with classic loose lips. The 23rd pulled off dozens of roadshows with theatrical flare. It's tricky to evaluate their direct military impact, but there were operations that they were a part of, notably the breakout from Normandy and crossing the Rhine, where Nazi defenses were held in front of the deception for vital hours at the beginning of an attack. Where this book excels is in the literal picture of the men involved. The heart of the 23rd was a lowkey mafia of New York artists and art students, and where other soldiers with downtime would gamble, the 23rd sketched and painted. The art is exceptional, and there's lots of excerpts from sketchbooks. Some of the men of the 23rd went on to great careers in art and design, and their talent shows through. The authors do a solid job putting together the story, though real history buffs should probably just go right to the primary source with the 23rd's Official History, which is arguably the most entertaining official history in the Army's archives and only recently declassified. With this book and the PBS documentary, Beyer and Sayles have done an admirable job preserving the legacy of one of the oddest and most interesting military units.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gus Raya

    Artists can fight in wars, too.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned about an aspect of the war of which I was not familiar. What really made the book come alive is the numerous reproductions of pencil artwork and paintings done by the GI's as they made their way across Europe. I'm not at all an art person, but in this case the renderings of their first hand experiences were fascinating. I hope somebody a vast majority of this artwork ends up in a museum. It certainly represents some historical aspect of WWII. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned about an aspect of the war of which I was not familiar. What really made the book come alive is the numerous reproductions of pencil artwork and paintings done by the GI's as they made their way across Europe. I'm not at all an art person, but in this case the renderings of their first hand experiences were fascinating. I hope somebody a vast majority of this artwork ends up in a museum. It certainly represents some historical aspect of WWII.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Fallon

    This is one amazing book. The authors cover the formation, deployment and actions of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops - a group of artists, engineers, radio operators, sound men and combat troops. The 23rd "impersonated" other units (including complete divisions) through misleading radio communications, using loudspeakers to broadcast "heavy vehicle traffic" and even blow-up rubber tanks. By deceiving the Germans, the real units could launch surprise attacks. As a bonus, the book is full of d This is one amazing book. The authors cover the formation, deployment and actions of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops - a group of artists, engineers, radio operators, sound men and combat troops. The 23rd "impersonated" other units (including complete divisions) through misleading radio communications, using loudspeakers to broadcast "heavy vehicle traffic" and even blow-up rubber tanks. By deceiving the Germans, the real units could launch surprise attacks. As a bonus, the book is full of drawings and prints by the "artist-soldiers". Because their exploits were classified - and kept that way through much of the Cold War - this chapter of WWII has been largely hidden from view.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marybeth

    Very interesting topic, dry writing style

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alyson Hurt

    Fascinating story (and one that would probably make for a great movie).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    Great WWII true story!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The Ghost Army of World War II sheds light on one of the lesser known divisions - and episodes - of World War II. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, or "Ghost Army" used every form of deception against the German army as Patton and company fought their way from the hedgerows of Normandy and on across the Rhine. The Ghost Army - at 1,100 strong - was often charged with convincing the enemy that anywhere north of 30,000 men were amassing to launch one or another audacious attacks. They did this The Ghost Army of World War II sheds light on one of the lesser known divisions - and episodes - of World War II. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, or "Ghost Army" used every form of deception against the German army as Patton and company fought their way from the hedgerows of Normandy and on across the Rhine. The Ghost Army - at 1,100 strong - was often charged with convincing the enemy that anywhere north of 30,000 men were amassing to launch one or another audacious attacks. They did this through the use of multimedia deceptions, using visual, sonic, and radio illusions, the most amusing of which I found to be the inflatable tanks. Their work was so secret that other American troops were not privy to it - as evidenced by the quote from one private: "All of a sudden I see four guys, one on each end of a General Sherman tank, picking the thing up. And I practically collapsed, because I thought, 'Gee, I could never pick up a tank.' " (A couple of unsuspecting Frenchmen were equally perplexed. A farmer had to be restrained from sharing what he witnessed when looking to round up his herd and instead saw his cows pushing an American tank around. Another time, a breach of the security perimeter led to two cyclists being told "The Americans are very strong.") Generally, The Ghost Army of World War II is a snappy little book, the writing light, the anecdotes frequent, the humor outweighing the grimness of war. The story about measuring signs was my favorite; I'll not spoil it other than to say: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Authors Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles also do a remarkable job of incorporating art and photography into the story they tell. This emphasis is fitting, as many of the men in the 23rd were artists - their numbers included the likes of Bill Blass, Arthur Singer, Art Kane, and Jack Masey - and by incorporating their photographs and their artwork, works made during the war itself....well, a picture is worth a thousand words. While plenty has been written about espionage in war, from Operation Columba to Operation Mincemeat, The Irregulars to Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, this is the first work I've encountered devoted entirely to the art of wartime deception. (Perhaps that's not surprising: you can spend a day at the International Spy Museum, and while the museum may boast the occasional exhibit that falls under deception, it's all much more James Bond than David Copperfield.) More disappointing, the National World War II museum lacks a permanent exhibit on the Ghost Army; when I checked their website to see how I had possibly missed it, I was instead met with an announcement that, in fact, there's a special, temporary exhibit on the Ghost Army from March 2020 to January 2021. Thanks to covid, I'll have to give it a pass. The Ghost Army isn't a must read in any traditional sense. It's not the story of major battles, overall strategy, soaring rhetoric, or historical antecedents. That is, it's easily overlooked for those who are interested in the war in the broadest sense. Like Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, though, it's one of those books focusing on a smaller episode that collectively lends richness to the our understanding of World War II. That it does so with humor, rather than a body count, is the cherry on top.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lonette

    I’ve read a lot of books about World War II, so I was surprised that I had never heard of the “Ghost Army” before. As soon as I saw the title, I decided to read it and find out more. The first thing I learned was the reason that I hadn’t heard much about this unusual group. Because of the top-secret nature of the 23rd Division, all mention of the unit was classified for decades after the war ended. As the title of the book indicates, the three areas employed to trick the enemy were visual, sonic, I’ve read a lot of books about World War II, so I was surprised that I had never heard of the “Ghost Army” before. As soon as I saw the title, I decided to read it and find out more. The first thing I learned was the reason that I hadn’t heard much about this unusual group. Because of the top-secret nature of the 23rd Division, all mention of the unit was classified for decades after the war ended. As the title of the book indicates, the three areas employed to trick the enemy were visual, sonic, and radio. The unit was made up of artists, film set designers, and sound engineers. They created inflatable guns, tanks, and even people! Recordings were made of the movements of a real army and then played when deceiving the Germans into thinking an army was near. However, it did put the actual soldiers at risk because they had no real equipment to use if attacked. There was a small unit of armed soldiers and weaponry assigned to the 23rd, but when attacked, they were in real trouble. Luckily, it didn’t happen often. I enjoyed the stories about how the 23rd impersonated other US army units. They would “hide” their inflatable tanks and trucks in plain sight so that enemy aircraft would see then and presume the army was real. The 23rd even had arm patches from every US army so that when they went into towns, they could pretend to be members of each unit and intentionally let things slip when talking to townspeople who could be possible enemy spies. Another plus was reading what members of the Ghost Army did after the war. Who knew that the famous fashion designer Bill Blass was a part of the 23rd! Why the three-star rating? Well, although the story about the Ghost Army was interesting, I was expecting more. There was a lot of material about the artists, but the information about the action they saw lacked depth. I would have appreciated more details about the operations themselves. I think it was because of this that I was not as engaged in this book as much as I’d been in others. If you have Amazon Prime, have a look at the 2013 PBS documentary “The Ghost Army.” It’s interesting.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    I first read about them in the context of Operation Fortitude as part of the overall Overlord campaign - creating a fictitious US Army Group in East Anglia to fool the Germans into thinking the main thrust was coming at the Pas de Calais. Little did I know the story was much richer. Next, I ran across a documentary on Amazon Prime on the "Ghost Army". I learned that the official US Army unit designation was the 23rd Special Headquarters Troop. This was classic bureaucratic smoke screen to hide wh I first read about them in the context of Operation Fortitude as part of the overall Overlord campaign - creating a fictitious US Army Group in East Anglia to fool the Germans into thinking the main thrust was coming at the Pas de Calais. Little did I know the story was much richer. Next, I ran across a documentary on Amazon Prime on the "Ghost Army". I learned that the official US Army unit designation was the 23rd Special Headquarters Troop. This was classic bureaucratic smoke screen to hide what the unit was really up to. The documentary was probably based on the book because it mentioned their tactics, such as creating a fake division using sound; the unit would roll up to the assembly lines and then play on a loop sounds of an American unit moving into position to attack. However, when the book was on sale, I decided to read more. There is only so much you can fit into a 48 minute documentary. I was very impressed with the author capturing the unit. I learned that these were truly the artsy type and how they answered the call to serve their country. In the 21st century, my biases towards such types are those who would never be found within a mile of an Armed Forces Recruiting station. But back then, these men chose to serve. They took pictures, they drew cartoons, and even painted in their spare time. The authors truly captured the essence of the men of the 23rd Special Headquarters Troop. Rather than just drink and chase women, they drew pictures of them. They captured Army life - the mundane and the hair raising. The authors also showed just much danger they could have been in; they could be attacked just like all the other units. Perhaps sometimes they were too good because they had to fool their own side in the name of OPSEC. Not even fellow American soldiers knew what they were up to. I would recommend this book for anyone interesting in reading more about World War 2.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I received this gift from my daughter and son-in-law on Christmas. I didn't even know this unit existed, as it was top secret during the war, and only gradually declassified in the decades after. The Ghost Army was the name given to the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, whose purpose it was to trick the enemy into thinking that a real platoon, division, or army, was in one place, while they were actually moving to another. Their techniques included the use of dummy soldiers, dummy tanks, and dumm I received this gift from my daughter and son-in-law on Christmas. I didn't even know this unit existed, as it was top secret during the war, and only gradually declassified in the decades after. The Ghost Army was the name given to the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, whose purpose it was to trick the enemy into thinking that a real platoon, division, or army, was in one place, while they were actually moving to another. Their techniques included the use of dummy soldiers, dummy tanks, and dummy airplanes, fake radio broadcasts, and recordings blasting through loudspeakers that sounded like troops on the move. The stories of their deceptions (or as some preferred to call them, manipulations) range from comical to tragic, as they usually were able to pull out of the area in time to evade a German attack, but not always. The men of the Ghost Army included artists, designers, and special effects engineers in visuals and sound. They included many who went on to become professional artists and designers in their own right: Bill Blass (fashion designer), Victor Dowd (comic book and ad illustrator), Art Kane (fashion and music photographer), Ellsworth Kelley (artist and sculptor), Arthur Singer (bird illustrator), and more. The book is full of drawings by these artists, sketches and watercolors of the towns they were in, and sketches of each other. Most touching for me were the sketches of the DP (displaced persons) that the Ghost Army personnel had to guard after the fighting ended, poor people of all nationalities, many forced into slave labor for the Reich. There are also many photographs, and a few maps. It's a fascinating look into a not-often-discussed aspect of war. As Wesley Clark said, "Every army practices deception. If they don't, they can't win, and they know it."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debra Jeakins

    THE GHOST ARMY OF WWII BY RICK BEYER. I love history, any and all history. So when Goodreads and the author RICK BEYER gave me the chance to read this book I was truly grateful! GHOST ARMY OF WWII(SHORTENED), give us the chance to finally learn about the deception,the props and most of all the people behind,what was once one of the biggest secrets of WWII. 95 lb tanks? Inflatable soldiers? and yes camouflage made of chicken feathers, was what a group of artists,hollywood types and people with a THE GHOST ARMY OF WWII BY RICK BEYER. I love history, any and all history. So when Goodreads and the author RICK BEYER gave me the chance to read this book I was truly grateful! GHOST ARMY OF WWII(SHORTENED), give us the chance to finally learn about the deception,the props and most of all the people behind,what was once one of the biggest secrets of WWII. 95 lb tanks? Inflatable soldiers? and yes camouflage made of chicken feathers, was what a group of artists,hollywood types and people with a definitely weird sense of the odd made up one of the most important military units in the invasion of Normandy that history knew very little about until now. These men were on the front lines with FAKE tanks/halftracks/artillery guns and "people" Their job during the invasion of D-day: confuse the heck out of the enemy , and that's what they did! With the help of audio specialists they did their job at a great risk to themselves and others. Unsung heros? Definitely! Not anymore thanks to RICK BEYER! As I said before, I am huge history nut if you will, and THE GHOST ARMY OF WWII BY RICK BEYER is a great chunk of history,and a great book to introduce us to the men who risked their lives by creating and implementing this ruse that helped bring D-Day and beyond to its conclusion. This book does answer quite a few questions that I had on how the deception was planned and carried out. I received this book free from goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    When I ordered this book from my library, it was with misgivings since I'm not really interested in reading battle histories. But if you're like me, don't be put off by that thought. This book was more than interesting, it was fascinating. This unit with their creativity, dreamed up ways to confound a terrible enemy with pen and ink and paper, rubber and compressed air, and sound, among other things that we would never imagine being weapons of battle. But they were, and often, very effective one When I ordered this book from my library, it was with misgivings since I'm not really interested in reading battle histories. But if you're like me, don't be put off by that thought. This book was more than interesting, it was fascinating. This unit with their creativity, dreamed up ways to confound a terrible enemy with pen and ink and paper, rubber and compressed air, and sound, among other things that we would never imagine being weapons of battle. But they were, and often, very effective ones, too. Often, the deceptions used by this unit resulted in saving the lives of many other soldiers. And yet this unit operated unknown to most of the rest of the armed forces--they were basically invisible. I'm sure there are even more fabulous stories about soldiers of this unit that will go forever untold since many of it's members are not with us anymore. But many thanks to these authors for pursuing and recording the amazing history of this unit, the names and exploits of many of the men in the unit, and for retelling for all of us the heroic acts and the humane acts of this unit. Most of all, a huge thank you to all the men of this unit for their brave service to the United States.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daan

    Wars are won on many ways, feet on the ground, control of the sky, control of the waters, through information and through secret operations. In World War II the USA created a very special unit, not one ran by soldiers that fought, though this unit had their guards. But by artists, and the art of deception. Many of them, after the war, became big artists or big names within the industry. But these years are all about the big deception that they created, fake tanks and artillery, radio traffic, imp Wars are won on many ways, feet on the ground, control of the sky, control of the waters, through information and through secret operations. In World War II the USA created a very special unit, not one ran by soldiers that fought, though this unit had their guards. But by artists, and the art of deception. Many of them, after the war, became big artists or big names within the industry. But these years are all about the big deception that they created, fake tanks and artillery, radio traffic, impersonating other army divisions and groups, creating trails that made it look as if a huge army was close by. And all to decieve the german army. This book goes not into the very details, but that isn't needed. This book goes in the personal lives of the people on the field, into the tricks they used to keep the enemy busy, in the way the had to bamboozle not only the enemy but also their own allies. With allot of pictures and interresting stories. It definitely is a worthy read. And the good part, it worked, mostly, they definitely kept the germans busy with false information.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Interesting, but once you learn about the tactics and strategies employed by the ghost army in the first half, the book fails to keep you interested. This may be because the operations, or deceptions, were not described well enough in the context of the "real" operations they assisted. Beyer does describe some of that context, but does not go far enough. Also, Beyer attempts to paint a more complete picture of the unit by sharing some aspects of the personalities of the men of the ghost army, bu Interesting, but once you learn about the tactics and strategies employed by the ghost army in the first half, the book fails to keep you interested. This may be because the operations, or deceptions, were not described well enough in the context of the "real" operations they assisted. Beyer does describe some of that context, but does not go far enough. Also, Beyer attempts to paint a more complete picture of the unit by sharing some aspects of the personalities of the men of the ghost army, but again only scratches the surface. I believe he could have said just as much about these men in fewer words, or else he should have gone into more depth if we are to understand the troops of the 23rd Headquarters Special better. All that I really know now is that they were artists and other creatives. I would still recommend the book to those interested in learning about a very interesting element of the Allied war effort, but maybe there is a better book out there on the subject.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    In October 2017, we did a Normandy tour of the U.S. beaches and cemetery. It was close to Halloween and our incredible tour guide was wearing a pin with a ghost on it. One of the guests with us asked if it had to do with Halloween. He said no and then explained it was a pin commemorating the Ghost Army. He then told us about what they did and then showed us this book, signed by one of the authors who had done his tour recently. I borrowed it for a minute while he was talking and just knew I had In October 2017, we did a Normandy tour of the U.S. beaches and cemetery. It was close to Halloween and our incredible tour guide was wearing a pin with a ghost on it. One of the guests with us asked if it had to do with Halloween. He said no and then explained it was a pin commemorating the Ghost Army. He then told us about what they did and then showed us this book, signed by one of the authors who had done his tour recently. I borrowed it for a minute while he was talking and just knew I had to purchase it. I've never read a book on World War II before. I'm glad this was my first one. An incredible, well-researched book of the history of the men that made up the Ghost Army. They interviewed many of these men (sadly, many have died recently) and their stories are just amazing. On top of that, many were artists and their work is also depicted in this book. A fascinating book of a story not many know about (nor knew about for decades).

  26. 5 out of 5

    William Nist

    A brief record of the working of a most unusual Army unit in World War II, this book outlines the mission and operations of the 23rd Regiment, operating along the front lines in France during the last two years of the war. This group consisted of artists, thespians, and set technicians who used inflatable armor, fake broadcasts, blaring speakers and good acting to make the German army think that real armored units and infantry were mustering, thereby diverting attention so that the actual Americ A brief record of the working of a most unusual Army unit in World War II, this book outlines the mission and operations of the 23rd Regiment, operating along the front lines in France during the last two years of the war. This group consisted of artists, thespians, and set technicians who used inflatable armor, fake broadcasts, blaring speakers and good acting to make the German army think that real armored units and infantry were mustering, thereby diverting attention so that the actual American units could sneak up on the enemy or attack in unanticipated areas. I was unaware of the existence of such a unit, but it is hardly surprising that the Americans would want to confuse the enemy with tactics like these. The book is full of illustrations, actual pictures, and drawings made by the men during their down times. All this makes for an interesting read, and is recommended as a light tonic for WWII history students.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    I didn't think I would like this book. I loved it. I had never heard of the Ghost army. A group of artists, architects , designers, radio specialists and video specialists put together an elaborate scheme to fool the Germans. This book gives you the interesting stories how all this was accomplish and the successes. Fake tanks, realistic sounds of military equipment moving, and fake radio transmissions. The fake transmissions were more elaborate then the ones I had read about before. I really lik I didn't think I would like this book. I loved it. I had never heard of the Ghost army. A group of artists, architects , designers, radio specialists and video specialists put together an elaborate scheme to fool the Germans. This book gives you the interesting stories how all this was accomplish and the successes. Fake tanks, realistic sounds of military equipment moving, and fake radio transmissions. The fake transmissions were more elaborate then the ones I had read about before. I really liked the way the book was set up. Writing with photos and drawings. The artists in the group spent time in trenches drawing each other. In towns they drew people and places. Some of these artists became famous like Bill Blass. At the back it tells you where all these artists went after the war. I would recommend this to those interested in military history or Art History.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elgin

    This book added something new to my WWII knowledge. I had known that the Allies had fake bases in England in an effort to decieve the Germans about the true location of the D-Day landings. However I was not aware that a similar unit was sent over after the landings to provide misdirection during campaigns. Many recruits into this unit were artists, sound engineers, and other creative individuals. This was clearly a highly intelligent and imaginative group of young men who were often in a very da This book added something new to my WWII knowledge. I had known that the Allies had fake bases in England in an effort to decieve the Germans about the true location of the D-Day landings. However I was not aware that a similar unit was sent over after the landings to provide misdirection during campaigns. Many recruits into this unit were artists, sound engineers, and other creative individuals. This was clearly a highly intelligent and imaginative group of young men who were often in a very dangerous position as one of the hopes was that they would draw enemy fire away from the combat troops preparing for battle. I loved the layout of the book...almost every page had photographs and artwork produced by men in the division. The drawings, paintings, and exerpts from letters and diarys added tremendoulsly to my enjoyment of the story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Smith

    Interesting book telling us an unknown aspect of WW II that apparently played a significant role in the Allies winning the war against Germany. This courageous group of soldiers pulled off an amazing deception in war time yet could not tell anyone about it much less brag about it. The sad part is that this extremely creative group never got recognized for the role they played in WW II nor the wonderful art they created reflecting their experiences. It’s wonderful to have this book share what the Interesting book telling us an unknown aspect of WW II that apparently played a significant role in the Allies winning the war against Germany. This courageous group of soldiers pulled off an amazing deception in war time yet could not tell anyone about it much less brag about it. The sad part is that this extremely creative group never got recognized for the role they played in WW II nor the wonderful art they created reflecting their experiences. It’s wonderful to have this book share what they were all about. It was interesting to finally hear their efforts mentioned on national TV (NBC News) on April 28, 2019 with a 95 and 104 year old veteran sharing their experience being a part of this effort.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Not all war heroes tote machine guns and charge into enemy fire. Sometimes they design inflatable tanks and record the sounds of tractors. The Ghost Army of WWII was a unit designed to mislead the Nazis. Much more than using forays and feints, they staged elaborate maneuvers with multimedia to fool German surveillance. What I personally found most interesting is that most of the soldiers were not truly soldiers. It was a unit of artists, advertisers, and set designers, using their skills to aid Not all war heroes tote machine guns and charge into enemy fire. Sometimes they design inflatable tanks and record the sounds of tractors. The Ghost Army of WWII was a unit designed to mislead the Nazis. Much more than using forays and feints, they staged elaborate maneuvers with multimedia to fool German surveillance. What I personally found most interesting is that most of the soldiers were not truly soldiers. It was a unit of artists, advertisers, and set designers, using their skills to aid the war effort. I read this as audiobook so I missed out on the photographs, but it was a worthwhile read nonethless.

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