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Most Secret War by R. V. Jones

Most Secret War (1978)

by R. V. Jones

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I started reading this book with no other expectations than to be a little wiser and entertained at the same time. But ended up with a feeling of having read one of the best and most vivid accounts of WWII I have ever read.

The subject – scientific intelligence – may seem a bit ‘dry’, but in this book it is not. Deductions becomes an art, compiling, filtering and picking the right intelligence a virtue and – in this case – to be a survivor in ‘bloodless tribal wars’ (Walt Rostow) among scientists a must. If I was in any doubt that the ‘tech war’ of WWII in Europe was on the edge all the time, I am not anymore.

I can only recommend this book fully as a solid foundation for anyone who read about the WWII air battles over Great Britain and Germany as well as the V1 and V2 weapons.
( )
  JesperCFS2 | Mar 13, 2017 |
Dr. R. V. Jones was a British physicist who worked in Scientific Intelligence during WW II. He was at the forefront of the battle against German radar, tracking beams for German bombers, V 1 flying bombs & V 2 rockets. He is credited with the idea of dropping "window" to confuse German radar.

Far from being a boring technical manual, Jones wrote a volume full of gossip, humour and adventure. He was a close confidant of Churchill and other leaders of the period and tells much about what went on behind the scenes. I found it a real page turner. ( )
  lamour | Jan 10, 2015 |
If your at all interested in Britain during WWII and the Royal Air Forces scientific intelligence then this is an excellent book. Written by Professor R.V. Jones who was the head of scientific intelligence within the RAF it is written from his prospective during the war years. It starts with his early life and goes onto his education and the beginnings of his scientific career and while it was written in the 1970's it ends in the early 1950's.

The battle of the beams, the fight against German radar and navigation systems and the V-weapons are all covered. What I really liked was that Professor Jones was a Patriot and it shows, like all good patriots he also admires those of other nationalities who are also Patriots. He gives credit not just to himself and his team in scientific intelligence but also to those in other areas of Britain's defence, particularly in aerial reconnaissance over nazi controlled Europe. He also is quick to give credit to those in the resistance across Europe who provided intelligence to the Allies on often very technical subjects. He also gives credit to the Germans for their abilities and successes, always remembering that his task was to defeat them.

His relationship with Winston Churchill is of interest as is the interactions he had with other leading British figures of the period. My only complaints were that the book is big, nearly 700 pages and in parts it is very technical. To be honest I sometimes couldn't follow everything and I took off 1/2 a star because it is not a light read. Having said that I do think it is an important read, so if your interested in Britain during WWII do read this book! ( )
  bookmarkaussie | Aug 12, 2014 |
A fascinating insight into the inner workings of British scientific intelligence during the second world war. Jones is somewhat defensive for the first half of the book, excusing himself for not having taken part in direct action; in the latter half, his series of achievements makes it quite clear that he achieved more than most individuals ever will (no matter how heroic). The methodical approach to intelligence gathering, virtues of having a single mind surveying the scene and the importance of "soft skills" are all vividly and informatively recounted. The whole work is shot through with brilliant digressions, anecdotes and fragments of true history - the contrasts and parallels with Churchill's own war diaries are illuminating. ( )
  gbsallery | Jan 14, 2013 |
Very interesting look behind the intelligence curtain. Written soon after the war, so some detail would have been glossed over, but still very useful on the tug-of-war, to-and-fro nature of the technological battlefield. ( )
  JonSowden | Dec 19, 2011 |
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R. V. Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
The Vicomtesse de ClarenceForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To all those in Nazi-occupied Europe who in lone obscurity and of their own will risked torture and death for scientific intelligence, like 'Amniarix' (Jeannie Rousseau, Vicomtesse de Clarens), Leif Tronstad, Thomas Sneum, Hasager Christiansen, A. A. Michels, Jean Closquet, Henri Roth, Yves Rocard, Jerzy Chmielewski, and the author of the Oslo Report (*): to reconnaissance pilots like Tony Hill: To radio observers like Eric Ackermann and Harold Jordan: and to the men of the Bruneval Raid. For 'courage is the quality that guarantees all others.'

(*) Hans Ferdinand Mayer
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This book tells of the rise of Scientific Intelligence in warfare as I saw it in World War II. It is thus a personal memoir in which I hope that general readers may find some entertainment, intelligence officers some working examples of their trade, historians some matters of interest, and scientists some instruction in the value of sticking to basic principles.
... our community of radio amateurs in Britain was to prove an invaluable reserve, both in Signals Intelligence and in Signals proper, as well as furnishing many of the staff for our rapidly increasing number of radar stations. (pp. 128)
"KNICKEBEIN, KLEVE, IST AUF PUNKT 53 GRAD 24 MINUTEN NORD UND EIN GRAD WEST EINGERICHTET"... I quickly recognized that it was a decoded message, because I knew that during the preceding two months Bletchley had begun to be successful in decoding some of the Enigma messages. (pp. 135)
If our good fortunes hold, we may yet pull the Crooked Leg. (pp. 150)
'He's not much good - he bases his theory on experiment!' (T. L. Eckersley for Dr. Johannes Plendl, pp. 232)
He [General Martini, Head of German Air Signals and Radar] had no skilled reserve to draw upon among radio amateurs, as we had, because Hitler had banned amateur radio before the war since it might provide communication links for disaffected organizations. (pp. 316)
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BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Reginald Jones was nothing less than a genius. And his appointment to the Intelligence Section of Britain's Air Ministry in 1939 led to some of the most astonishing scientific and technological breakthroughs of World War Two. In Most Secret War he details how Britain stealthily stole the war from under the Germans' noses by outsmarting their intelligence at every turn. He tells of the 'battle of the beams'; detecting and defeating flying bombs; using chaff to confuse radar; and many other ingenious ideas and devices. Pitting himself in a desperate battle of wits against his Nazi counterparts, Jones was the man with the plan to save Britain. His story makes for riveting reading. 'Every bit as good as a Deighton or Le Carre yarn'. Guardian.… (more)

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