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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2015 Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The Ghost Army of World War II describes a perfect example of a little-known, highly imaginative, and daring maneuver that helped open the way for the final drive to Germany. It is a riveting tale told through personal accounts and sketches along the way - ultimately, a story of success against great odds. I enjoyed it enormously." (Tom Brokaw)

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Should have been better I'm affraid

Would you try another book from Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles and/or Tom Stechschulte?

I definitely wouldn't look for a book by this narrater. It was a weak performance that ruined a potentially good yarn. The pronunciation of French place names in this reading was shockingly bad, to name just one fault with it all. I can't say that I'd rush to these authors again either. They did their research, but just failed to pull it all together in a way that made you feel like you were listening to anything that was actually following a timeline.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I'm a huge fan of history from this period, and the idea that these guys set up a fake army is amazing to me. I should have loved this, it had "me" written all over it, yet I struggled to get through a mere 4 hour reading and had to restart it on several occasions. Sadly it's just poorly written, and poorly performed. Its saving grace is that it is a true story so despite the bad writing, you can't help but wonder at the ingenuity of these guys.

What didn’t you like about Tom Stechschulte’s performance?

Laughable pronunciation of French place names, monotone performance... just dull.

Was The Ghost Army of World War II worth the listening time?

Barely. It made me want to go and research the subject and see if someone else has done a better job of telling this story.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Bring a balloon to a gun fight.

Unbelievable courage to hold off one of the most notorious armies in history with a bunch of speakers and balloons. They couldn't even tell their allies to either side that they were essentially unarmed. They pulled off their mission PERFECTLY as evidenced by the fact that any of them survived. It is a great story and it is worth listening to. Attention to details is incredible where they considered things that would have given away the deception and find a way to make it work.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 07-03-16

A Riveting Bit of WWII History

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. 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.

25 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Not Enough Info

The narrator does an ok job. The problem is that there is not enough information to make this book compelling. It's as if some of the confidential information is still being withheld. There is a lot of filler and not nearly enough about what the Ghost Army did. Besides a few interesting tidbits--such as the incident when witnesses saw the guys lifting a "tank"--this is boring and unsatisfying.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword!

Where does The Ghost Army of World War II rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The Ghost Army of World War II is in my top ten!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Ghost Army of World War II?

Bill Blass in Paris sketching women was a most memorable moment for me.

Which scene was your favorite?

This audiobook left me imagining how many of the scenes would have looked and felt, it's too hard to pick just one!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The bravery it took for the men to go into town unarmed just to plant false stories of real army locations had me on the edge of my seat.

Any additional comments?

The Ghost Army of World War II exemplifies the phrase, “the truth is stranger than fiction”. The men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops answered a call of duty requiring more bravery, talent and hutzpah than previously ever imagined! This riveting, well-written recounting of the war from artists, who used their imagination and skills alone to keep the “real” army safe, is inspiring on so many levels you don’t have to be a fan of war stories to love this read. The idea that the whole thing was kept secret for so long makes their mission all the more fascinating. I won’t be keeping this one a secret!

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Hidden History ... revealed!

An amazing recount of the little known set of troupe who helped win WW2 with deception & sleight of hand (er, tank). If you're interested in the hidden parts of the war, you don't want to miss this book. Narration voice talent lends to authentic review simply because of his voice.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Interesting concept, a bit short on delivery...

When I read the summary of the book I purchased it right away. The idea of a decoy army creating deception all over Europe during WWII seemed too good to pass up. I still feel that it is amazing that their isn't more out there about this than there is. Unfortunately, whether it's a lack of available details or the writing style I just couldn't get very into this book. I wanted to connect with the characters and the stories of what they went through in much more detail, but kept being disappointed when time after time each story or subject would just glance over the surface and then move on. I think this concept would make a great movie some day!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Could have been more entertaining

It was interesting to learn about the Ghost Army, but I think their story could have been presented in a much more entertaining way. It was worth a Daily Deal purchase, but I would have been disappointed had I spent a credit on it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wow!!! Declassified war story by a GREAT author

Where does The Ghost Army of World War II rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the BEST audio book I have EVER listened to, great narrator, and the content is really fascinating.

What did you like best about this story?

The colorful picture painted of the people who were there, and the pride they had in their work.

What about Tom Stechschulte’s performance did you like?

His voice, mostly.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Hollywood Magic-Tricks Hitler!

Any additional comments?

Can't wait for the movie being made by the people responsible for American Sniper.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 10-15-16

Unique WW2 story

Ghost Army tells of the artist-soldiers who formed the US deception unit of WW2. I had not know about such a thing, and found it interesting. It was only an okay book. There was a sameness to the missions. The best parts were the humorous individual anecdotes. A 60 minute TV documentary would probably be the best way to experience this unique bit of military history. I liked this enough and am glad I listened.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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