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Secret Soldiers
Cover of Secret Soldiers
Secret Soldiers
How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis
What do set design, sound effects, and showmanship have to do with winning World War II? Meet the Ghost Army that played a surprising role in helping to deceive — and defeat — the Nazis. In...
What do set design, sound effects, and showmanship have to do with winning World War II? Meet the Ghost Army that played a surprising role in helping to deceive — and defeat — the Nazis. In...
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  • What do set design, sound effects, and showmanship have to do with winning World War II? Meet the Ghost Army that played a surprising role in helping to deceive — and defeat — the Nazis.

    In his third book about deception during war, Paul B. Janeczko focuses his lens on World War II and the operations carried out by the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops, aka the Ghost Army. This remarkable unit included actors, camouflage experts, sound engineers, painters, and set designers who used their skills to secretly and systematically replace fighting units — fooling the Nazi army into believing what their eyes and ears told them, even though the sights and sounds of tanks and war machines and troops were entirely fabricated. Follow the Twenty-Third into Europe as they play a dangerous game of enticing the German army into making battlefield mistakes by using sonic deceptions, inflatable tanks, pyrotechnics, and camouflage in more than twenty operations. From the Normandy invasion to the crossing of the Rhine River, the men of the Ghost Army — several of whom went on to become famous artists and designers after the war — played an improbable role in the Allied victory.

About the Author-

  • Paul B. Janeczko (1945–2019) was a poet and teacher who edited numerous award-winning poetry anthologies for young people, including A Poke in the I, A Kick in the Head, A Foot in the Mouth, and The Death of the Hat, all of which were illustrated by Chris Raschka; Firefly July, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; and The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems, illustrated by Richard Jones. He also wrote Worlds Afire; Requiem: Poems of the Terezín Ghetto; Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing; Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War; The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles, a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults; and Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis.


    I didn't start out to be a writer. I started out as a kid in New Jersey who had two major goals in life: (1) survive one more year of delivering newspapers without being attacked by Ike, the one-eyed, crazed cur that lurked in the forsythia bushes at the top of the hill; and (2) become more than a weak-hitting, third-string catcher on our sorry Little League team. I failed at both.
    Had I announced at the dinner table, "Mom, Dad, I've decided to be a poet," my parents—especially my mother—would have been thrilled. In truth, they would have been thrilled that I'd decided to be anything other than a Top 40 disc jockey, Edsel salesman, or bullpen catcher I constantly talked about becoming in junior high.

    But at that point in my life, poetry—and school, in general, for that matter—meant no more to me than gerunds, the Belgian Congo, or George Washington's wooden teeth. I was only "gifted" on Christmas and my birthday. I didn't like school. I did as little homework as possible. I participated in class only under duress from the nuns. Before sixth grade, I wasn't even much of a reader. My reading was limited largely to baseball magazines, the daily sports page—usually carefully read over a chocolate egg cream in the local candy store—and the backs of baseball cards old and new. I was captivated by those color pictures of men wearing five o'clock shadows and baggy pants.

    Luckily for me, however, I discovered the Hardy Boys. Frank and Joe set me straight about the joys of reading. Somehow I made it through high school and I even found one college that would take me. That's when my life changed. At college I was with kids who had read books I hadn't read, knew about plays that I'd never heard of, and could talk about music, literature, and the arts. That was when I realized how much time I had wasted in high school. That's when it dawned on me that it was time for me to start learning.

    After college, where I actually did quite well, I headed to graduate school and then started teaching. I taught high-school English for twenty-two years in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Maine. I left the classroom in 1990, when my daughter was born. I've been fortunate to have published nearly fifty books.

    I usually spend about thirty-five days each year visiting schools. Over the past twenty years I have visited hundreds of schools from Maine to Alaska and even in Europe. When I'm not visiting schools, I'm usually in my office in my home in the foothills of western Maine working on books.

    Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:

    1. High on my list of things-that-drive-me-nuts are socks that don't stay up, drivers who don't signal, and the Red Sox losing to the Yankees.

    2. I walk a few miles, meditate, and do yoga nearly every day.

    3. My wife wishes I would keep the door...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2019
    During World War II, the U.S. 23rd Headquarters Special Troops was created to launch a series of operations to deceive the Germans.Artists, actors, telegraphers, set designers, engineers, and sound technicians were recruited for this secret unit--an atypical group of soldiers. By using prerecorded sounds of moving tanks, staging false camps with inflatable tanks and artillery, driving around the countryside wearing fake unit patches, and feeding locals false information, the men of the 23rd may have influenced the course of the war. Although the information presented is accurate and generally interesting, the structure of this effort is unsatisfactory. Numerous pageslong supplemental sections (printed on darkened pages and in a sans-serif type) provide additional information on topics introduced in the narrative, but these sections confusingly interrupt the story, sometimes midsentence, and too often come before the topics are introduced. Other additional sections provide brief biographies of some members of the 23rd, sometimes long before or after they're mentioned in the story. Additionally, each operation performed by the unit is described in repetitive detail, reporting over and over the use of uniform unit patches and unit designations on vehicles. Backmatter, however, is ample and detailed, including extensive source notes, a bibliography, image credits, and an index (the latter two not seen).Save this one for only the most dedicated of World War II buffs. (Nonfiction. 11-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2019

    Gr 9 Up-The use of spies and intercepting information regarding enemies' movements are key to winning any military campaign. But what if the enemy was actually sending false signals, setting up fake encampments and using sophisticated recording equipment to simulate movement that never really happened? Such was the task of the Twenty-Third Special Troops in the European Theater of World War II. Their actions and techniques were so secret they remained classified for 50 years after the war ended. This title follows their story from the conception and recruitment of the units to their final mission and return home. While the beginning is a bit confusing with lots of detail and a rapidly introduced large cast of characters, a rhythm develops taking readers on a journey of intrigue across Europe. This title is not a good choice for a first-time military history reader, as the military jargon begins on page one and little background of the overall conflict is provided throughout. However, for those with a mental map of the war, this book will provide delightful details of a very specialized and secret group. Biographical sketches of many of the members of the Twenty-Third Special Troops are included as well as brief sidebars detailing related topics. Plentiful photographs and maps are included throughout. VERDICT While some might grow weary of reading details of each specific mission, military history lovers will find much to appreciate in this extensive retelling of a skillful deception that helped end World War II.-Emily Beasley, Omaha Public Schools

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Secret Soldiers
Secret Soldiers
How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis
Paul B. Janeczko
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How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis
Paul B. Janeczko
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