Secret soldiers How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops fooled the Nazis

Paul B. Janeczko

Book - 2019

"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 camouf...lage 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."--

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Young adult nonfiction
Informational works
Illustrated works
Somerville, MA : Candlewick Press 2019.
Main Author
Paul B. Janeczko (author)
First edition
Physical Description
294 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographics references (pages [278]-283) and index.
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. The Ghost Army Is Born
  • Germans in South America
  • Beach Jumpers
  • Chapter 2. Recruitment and Training
  • Combat Engineers
  • The Army Half-Tracks
  • Chapter 3. Shipping Out ... and More Waiting
  • Convoys
  • Liberty Ships
  • Chapter 4. The Twenty-Third Gets into Action
  • From Hollywood to the Battlefield: Frederic Fox
  • Artists of the 603rd; Ellsworth Kelly
  • Chapter 5. The First Big Test
  • The Red Ball Express
  • Artists of the 603rd: Victor Dowd
  • Chapter 6. A Trio of Deceptions
  • Artists of the 603rd: Arthur Singer
  • Bailey Bridges
  • Chapter 7. A Deadly Winter
  • Panzer Brigade 150
  • Artists of the 603rd: Bill Blass
  • Chapter 8. After the Battle of the Bulge
  • Trench Art
  • Artists of the 603rd: Harold Laynor
  • Chapter 9. The Final Deception
  • Artists of the 603rd: Arthur Shilstone
  • Commendation for the VIERSEN Deception
  • Epilogue
  • Source Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Image Credits
  • Index
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

Prior to WWII, the U.S. military displayed a certain disdain for deception, but as the Great War continued, army brass had second thoughts, and the result was the creation of the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops, the subject of Janeczko's deep dive into the elaborate business of fooling the German forces. The typical ruse perpetrated by the 23rd was to move into an area, secretly take the place of a fighting unit, and then with their bag of tricks pretend they were the unit they had replaced. The 23rd, Janeczko reports, arrived on Omaha Beach some two weeks after D-Day and would remain in Europe plying its crafty ways until VE Day. In profiling the 23rd, Janeczko has clearly done prodigious research, and the result is an extraordinarily detailed history that sometimes offers a dramatic account of field operations. Occasionally, though, there is so much information that the reader may be lost in the thicket of details. Nevertheless, for teens who enjoy reading about war, this will be a bountiful gift.--Michael Cart Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

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. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

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 unitan 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 Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.