THE SHADOW WAR AGAINST HITLER: The Covert Operations of America's Wartime Secret Intelligence Service

By McNaylor, Mitchell | Military Review, March/April 2005 | Go to article overview

THE SHADOW WAR AGAINST HITLER: The Covert Operations of America's Wartime Secret Intelligence Service


McNaylor, Mitchell, Military Review


THE SHADOW WAR AGAINST HITLER: The Covert Operations of America's Wartime Secret Intelligence Service, Christof Mauch, Jeremiah M. Riemer, trans., Columbia University Press, New York, 2003, 333 pages, $34.50.

Christof Mauch's The Shadow War Against Hitler: The Coven Operations of America's Wartime Secret Intelligence Service describes the development of the Coordinator of Information (COI); its successor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS); and their activities during World War II. Mauch asserts, "This study-the-matically situated within a range of topics that spans the analysis of enemy actions, the investigation of unconventional secret intelligence methods, and postwar political planning-attempts to offer an overview of the projects, operations, and visions of the COI and OSS."

The book begins with a brief survey of relevant historiography on the topic and emphasizes the vast trove of archival material available to the historian. Approximately 90 percent of U.S. secret intelligence documents from World War II are available to researchers.

Mauch gives brief overviews of the OSS and its founder, Medal of Honor winner and successful Wall Street attorney William Donovan. He ascribes the particular character of the COI and OSS to the character of Donovan, who organized the intelligence services in his own image. Mauch comments, "The 'culture' of the secret intelligence service mirrored its director's conviction that hierarchical structures and narrow bureaucratic guidelines unnecessarily restricted the effectiveness and dynamism of the office. …

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