The Secret War

Spies, Ciphers, and Guerrillas, 1939-1945
Narrated by: Steven Crossley
Length: 30 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (271 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From one of the foremost historians of the period and the acclaimed author of Inferno and Catastrophe: 1914, The Secret War is a sweeping examination of one of the most important yet underexplored aspects of World War II - intelligence - showing how espionage successes and failures by the United States, Britain, Russia, Germany, and Japan influenced the course of the war and its final outcome.

Spies, codes, and guerrillas played unprecedentedly critical roles in the Second World War, exploited by every nation in the struggle to gain secret knowledge of its foes, and to sow havoc behind the fronts. In The Secret War, Max Hastings presents a worldwide cast of characters and some extraordinary sagas of intelligence and resistance, to create a new perspective on the greatest conflict in history.

©2015 Max Hastings (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Secret War

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A decent book but not great

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I expected more detail in the way of the technical info. This book is unlike other from Hastings in it's tone and it really doesn't suit audio format as you will forget which theatre/belligerent is the focus of each chapter while you pause.

Specifically I wanted to hear about certain aspects of the US/Japanese code war in the Pacific. No mention of the Navajo code talkers etc

3 people found this helpful

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Better read than listened to

This is one of those books that you can better read than listen to. The subject matter is very well treated, the narrator does a well enough job, but a there's a lot to ingest and a regular need to look back a few pages at a name or a date. And that, as we all know, is rather difficult with an audiobook.

5 people found this helpful

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a very comprehensive history of secret warfare.

a bit long but a good narration. Tons of stories about every angle of WWII.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Tedious

Extremely tedious. If I was working on my history PhD and needed a detailed source for names and dates, this would be useful, but not as something to listen to ad nauseam. Good reference book for the shelf, not good as an audio book. Steven Crossley did the best he could with the material he had to work with.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Archival recitation but good.

Recitation for much of the book which made me feel like I was right there at The Archives with the author. the final few chapters were better than the first few chapters. The ending chapter was an excellent recap which I enjoyed more than any other

2 people found this helpful

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  • ZS
  • 06-05-20

Good Book

Very informational, flowed well.

A few shots at modern US policies that dampen the the book.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great synthesis of WWII new and old info

Any WWII student must read this. E.g.. USA decrypts vs. Bletchley Park decrypts, and human int. vs. signals int. vs HARD POWER!!!!

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Very thorough if somewhat lengthly.

This work is excellent on all accounts although a bit long but the information provided is worth the effort.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J.
  • 07-05-16

Spying--Maybe not so Important after all.

It's unusual for an author to write so much on a subject and conclude that it really wasn't all that important, but that is basically Hastings' thesis. The book looks at espionage and code breaking from the perspective of both the Allied and Axis powers. With the exception of a few cases such as Ultra and the intelligence gained by the US Navy before Midway, spying really did not alter the course of WWII. Either the intel was ignored because it was buried in a surfeit of data or conflicted with political ideology, or countries simply did not have the physical power at the critical point to alter the military outcome. This is a good read nevertheless. It resonates with current-day limitations in combating terrorism. There is a lot of minutia that is instantly forgotten and the book bogs down in spots, but the lives of spies are varied and interesting even if what they did contributed very little to the course of history.

3 people found this helpful

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Narrator bland English.

Narrator gives condescending English tone, next time select a woman narrator, preferably with a Scottish, welsh or Irish accent.

1 person found this helpful