The explosive, dark secrets behind America's post-WWII science programs from the author of the New York Times best seller Area 51.
In the chaos following WWII, some of the greatest spoils of Germany's resources were the Third Reich's scientific minds. The U.S. government secretly decided that the value of these former Nazis' knowledge outweighed their crimes and began a covert operation code-named Paperclip to allow them to work in the U.S. without the public's full knowledge. Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including papers made available to her by direct descendants of the Third Reich's ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and lost dossiers discovered at the National Archives and Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into one of the most complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secrets of the 20th century.
©2014 Annie Jacobsen (P)2014 Hachette Audio
I would, but with a few caveats.
The major reason to recommend this audiobook is that it details the involvement of major German corporations in human rights abuses prior to and throughout WW2. This is important as far too few people are aware of this dark history. I particularly enjoyed learning more about the history of the drug Thalidomide. It also gives a biography of prominent Nazi scientists who were given clemency to accelerate technological progress in the USA.
The caveats are that whilst the narrator has a very clear voice, it lacks emotion and comes across as rather robotic. An excellent narrator can bring even turgid text to life, this narrator made listening more of a chore. My second caveat is that the evaluation of Operation Paperclip is rather facile as the author simply retreated to the moral high ground.
Her book on Area 51.
Alan Jenkins "Designer"
Great book, well written, though long-winded at times.
Biggest down side of book is the pronunciation of personal names - they are blatantly incorrect. Annie would probably be better to use another narrator (suggestion).
Detail is very much evident in this book, and exposes much of the "vile and evil activities" of many of the engineers and scientists committed prior to return to USA, and their crimes overlooked for the sake of technological gain. It questions the morality of the leaders of the time, and what could have been gained by way of illegal blood letting".
Annie; I admire your writing in this book, and the "no secret left untold" approach must be commended.
As a story - 100%. A highly recommended listen.
Great book. If I may have one comment - when using foreign language terms it would be advisable to have some guidance on pronounciation. The German used was often barely recognisable. But all in all great book.
Impressively detailed, this book covers not only the highly controversial employment of nazi doctors, scientists and engineers by the US govt, but places each of the key payers into context and highlights the unethical experiments carried out on humans - not just be the nazis but by the US on its own citizens. As such it's a broad topic and makes for a long book. It is brilliantly and comprehensively researched and makes for confronting and educational listening. Recommended.
"The Osenberg list"
In 1945, Operation Overcast (renamed Operation Paperclip for the paperclips attached to the dossiers of the scientist) began. More than 1600 German scientist were secretly recruited to work for the United States. There was a race between the United States and the U.S.S. R. to obtain these scientists. At the time Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rabbi Steven Wise publically opposed the program.
In 1998 President Clinton signed the Nazi War Crimes disclosure Act, which pushed through the declassification of American’s intelligence records, including F.B. I., Army Intelligence and C.I.A. files of German agents, scientists and war criminals. Jacobsen accessed these documents, along with her research in various special collections, interviews with former intelligence personnel and relatives of the scientists. This makes Jacobsen’s account the most in-depth to date. The author tracked 21 of these Nazi scientists. Eight of her subjects worked directly with the upper echelon of the Nazi government. Some of these are Werner Von Braun, Hubertus Strughold, Walter Dornberger, and Arthur Rudolph, Fritz Hoffman. The author described in detail the hunt for the Nazi secret chemical and biological warfare sites and the hunt for the scientist.
Jacobsen focuses mostly on biologists, chemists and physicians. She said the rocket scientist had already been widely written about.
The author painstakingly covers the various scientist works for the Nazis; I wish she would have equally covered their work in American. We know the benefit of the work by the rocket scientist in developing the Saturn rocket. German Chemist Fritz Hoffman was assigned by the U.S. to research toxic agents for military use. He is credited with the development of Agent Orange. It was used to defoliate trees in Vietnam. Hoffman died in 1967. Other German scientist worked in the area of aeronautical medicine, research into diabetes, neurological disease and also developing equipment. I believe one of them developed the ear thermometer. The book is an achievement of investigative reporting and historical writing. I would have preferred Jacobsen provide us with enough information about the works preformed in America to help us answer the question ----was our deal with the devil worth it? The author narrated the book.
"Exposure of the Systematic stonewalling of facts"
A very interesting documentation of Operation Paperclip and what lies hidden behind the American Scientist Programs in post war America. The systematic cover-up of facts that dozens if not hundreds of Americans took part in , to bring NAZI WAR CRIMINALS to America to further our Space and Chemical Weapons Programs .
How some in the Military whitewashed the Nazi pasts of dozens of Doctors and Scientists allowing them to live the "American Dream", become respected members of the space pioneer elite and escape punishment for their atrocities during WW2.
The narration (by the author)was not as good as a professional but a fascinating story.
"This book will be read in all history classes soon"
This book will be read in all history classes soon
I want to keep this short... This book is an amazing compendium of a subject that has never before been truly explored. Annie's research is amazing: aka you will be shocked and amazed and what you learn!
The frankness of the narrative.
Her narration really emphasizes the book's main points!
The last part, when she lists all the crimes/criminals... one by one... methodically
"Interesting study, dry delivery"
Some information presented in this book have more disturbing implications than others, and some actually outline the arguably positive outcomes of this arrangement. It, however, bridges the gap after the fall of the Nazis and the transformation of technological and military advancements in the West.
"Fine Reporting Marred by Lousy Editing"
Thorough, Revelatory, Slipshod,
I might recommend that they read the book themselves, because despite Jacobsen's frequently clumsy writing, her meticulous research of shameful US government actions is worth reading.
I would never recommend the audiobook, where Jacobsen's frequent mispronunciations and jerky delivery are a real distraction.
I guess it is a tribute to her research that I'm forcing myself to listen to her. It's not easy.
1) Her diction in the written text. She regularly misapplies the first cousins of the words she's looking for. For instance, I recognize that reveal is starting to supplant revelation as a noun in everyday speech, but there's no good reason for it. Likewise, bullish doesn't mean clumsy or stubborn. I think she was looking for bullheaded.
This is where a good book editor would have helped her. It's not fair to expect every writer to write lucidly. It is fair to expect editors to correct mistakes. In this case, they don't seem to have done that.
2) I can sympathize with her on number 2, delivery, because I've made similar mistakes myself. It is really difficult for most untrained people to read in a conversational, easily comprehensible tone that lays the right stresses on the right words and phrases. Jacobsen just makes an awful mess of it. She keeps breaking her sentences up into short phrases that have no apparent correlation to the narrative.
It's like. ThrowingABunchOfBoxes. Into a moving. VanWhereTheyTumbleAroundBangingAgainstTheWalls; as the truck careens down the highway.
This is where a good producer would have intervened. These are rookie mistakes. All the editor needed to do was coach Jacobsen. Nobody seems to have done that. So listening to her erratic recitation is sometimes painful.
3) Pronunciation. I'll give two examples.
Diplomat George Kennan's name isn't pronounced Keanan. All you have to do is look at the spelling to have some inkling about that, but nobody knows everything. That's where a producer and various other show editors should have helped out.
And please, it's "annals of warfare," a cliche, but at least not an embarrassing one. Not anals, with a hard "a." That kind of mistake can be disconcerting to a listener.
At, I think, 25 chapters, that would be tough to do. But it's worth reading for an education in unprincipled and profoundly dishonest US government policy.
This isn't the first time I've pointed out sloppy editing in Audible products. Don't you folks realize that selling slipshod work may eventually lose you customers?
"A great narrative of what follows wars...."
While I can tell the author was aghast at what she uncovered, this is an amazing tale of reaping the scientific experience of one foe to ready America for a next, larger foe. While many knew of Wernher von Braun's route to America & NASA, the tale of so many other key innovators was unreported since the 1960's. Well worth the listen!
"The truth is out there"
Outstanding research packed with newly declassified material. I thought I understood Operation Paperclip very well. I did not know it at all. But I do now.
"Thorough and disturbing history"
Another thorough job of historical reporting from Jacobsen. On a certain level, I knew we had brought over scientists, but having it all cataloged and laid out underscores what these men did in WWII. It also makes one consider whether some actions should be deemed unforgivable, and how much genius is worth in an age of science and technology. Like I said, I always knew we had Nazis working for us, but now I have more detail and nuance of what some of the Operation Paperclip scientists did and how very much had to be hidden, obscured, or ignored to bring them here. Worst of all, it has tainted the space program for me. I'm glad we landed on the moon, but doing it on the back of V2 rockets that had been first developed and built on the backs of slave labor leaves a horrendous taste in one's mouth.
"Great work undermined by author's narration"
This is an excellent work of historical journalism and important as an exposé of the extent of the US government's recruitment of Nazi scientists and doctors even before the end of WWII hostilities.
Unfortunately, the author, in narrating her own work, exposed her unfamiliarity with German source material. Granted, this is a story told from a US perspective and heavily reliant on recently declassified US documents, but the author's frequent mispronunciation of German names and phrases undermines any confidence in her command of the subject.
This is definitely a book worth reading, but skip the audiobook until they bring in a narrator with some sensitivity and understanding of the German language.
"Important book marred by narration"
This is an important book, full of interesting information which examines some of the worst practices of the Nazi regime, and sheds disconcerting light on the 'pragmatism' (should we say 'double standards') which can apply when our own governments have an agenda to pursue or an ideology to install at any cost. Jacobsen obviously undertook a great deal of research in order to tell this story in such rich and interesting detail. As for the narration, her voice is pleasant enough and I would not be too bothered by her somewhat flat presentation, but some or her pronunciations had me on edge dreading the next time I heard them. Egregious examples include Werner, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Harz, and Göring. I am a 'words person' and may place more emphasis than most on this point, but it would prevent my buying another audiobook narrated by Jacobsen which is a pity because this book suggests that her work is well worth reading/listening to.
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