• War of Shadows

  • Codebreakers, Spies, and the Secret Struggle to Drive the Nazis from the Middle East
  • By: Gershom Gorenberg
  • Narrated by: Fred Berman
  • Length: 14 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (73 ratings)

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War of Shadows  By  cover art

War of Shadows

By: Gershom Gorenberg
Narrated by: Fred Berman
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Publisher's Summary

In this World War II military history, Rommel's army is a day from Cairo, a week from Tel Aviv, and the SS is ready for action. Espionage brought the Nazis this far, but espionage can stop them - if Washington wakes up to the danger.

As World War II raged in North Africa, General Erwin Rommel was guided by an uncanny sense of his enemies' plans and weaknesses. In the summer of 1942, he led his Axis army swiftly and terrifyingly toward Alexandria, with the goal of overrunning the entire Middle East. Each step was informed by detailed updates on British positions. The Nazis, somehow, had a source for the Allies' greatest secrets.

Yet the Axis powers were not the only ones with intelligence. Brilliant Allied cryptographers worked relentlessly at Bletchley Park, breaking down the extraordinarily complex Nazi code Enigma. From decoded German messages, they discovered that the enemy had a wealth of inside information. On the brink of disaster, a fevered and high-stakes search for the source began.

War of Shadows is the cinematic story of the race for information in the North African theater of World War II, set against intrigues that spanned the Middle East. Years in the making, this book is a feat of historical research and storytelling, and a rethinking of the popular narrative of the war. It portrays the conflict not as an inevitable clash of heroes and villains but a spiraling series of failures, accidents, and desperate triumphs that decided the fate of the Middle East and quite possibly the outcome of the war.

©2021 Gershom Gorenberg (P)2021 PublicAffairs
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Richly detailed...deeply researched account." (Publishers Weekly

"Vivid...fascinating...sure to be among the year's best histories of World War II." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

What listeners say about War of Shadows

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

Crisp but complex, with an unusual narrative style

You most likely know how the story ends before you listen to the first chapter, but until the last hour you do not know why it ended that way. That mystery drives the listener to stay tuned. Gorenberg spins a series of threads that wind through time (1940-42) and place (North Africa). He does not always share why he needs to include certain threads, and there is a McGuffin or two in some of them. But that is part of the fun. The notion that something previously unknown - occurring within the immature American army - might have caused both Britain's worst defeat (Tobruk 1942) and greatest victory (El Alamein, months later), and ultimately saved the Middle East from Europe's fate, is by itself enough reason to add this book to your library. It does not disappoint.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Enigma, espionage and battlefields

This book give a good account of code breaking and espionage during ww2 in North Africa, the British mandate of Palestine and how this changed the face of ww2.

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Superbly researched & magnificently told.

Real-life WW2 spy thriller set in the crosshairs of Britain’s waning rule in Egypt and the country’s competing nationalists. Marvelously told, it will keep you on your toes while steeping you in North African geography, Rommel’s escapades, and the more-than-brilliant achievements of Britain’s codebreakers. One flaw: no recognition given to American Elizabeth Friedman, whose deciphering skills were on par with those of her much-referenced husband William.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting history: mediocre narration.

The narrator speaks with a hollow, hoarse voice and slopppily pronounces some words. For this reason alone I do not recommend this otherwise important book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but complicated book

Fascinating to learn about all the behind the scenes going on’s of the Middle Eastern war. However, as others have said it was hard to keep track of who was who so having a hard copy of the book would have made this easier to follow. The author did jump around the timeline quite a bit which also made it harder to follow. But, on the whole I still enjoyed the story. It does make you feel sorry for all those amazing code breakers who were never recognized publicly for their war winning work. Would definitely recommend a hard copy rather than audio though. The reader’s voice is not the nicest to listen to, and he mispronounced a number of words.

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a new angle on a story I thought I Knew

loved the narration and the content both
lots of new detail and a new perspective

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Super Story

Great book! Well written and performed. Learned a great deal about an important part of world history.

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Riveting

Mr. Berman's cadence and intriguing voice adds volumes to this circuitous account of the secretive sides of WWII. Thank you.

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Excellent

A well written and informative story of war, secrets and how they played out in Africa and the Middle East during WWII.

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Riveting, reads like a well written spy novel

From the opening scene of impending doom in Cairo, through the twists and turns of the dessert campaigns of World War Two and the parallel spy war that shaped the outcome, this historical tour-de-force reads like a novel. I couldn’t put it down.

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Profile Image for karl bartlett
  • karl bartlett
  • 06-30-21

A thorough history covering the period.

A thorough history covering all of the Axis and 8th Army exploits during the desert campaign in North Africa.