Book Review: A Genius for Deception by Nicholas Rankin

About:
A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars by Nicholas Rankin is a non-fiction book which tackles the history of camouflage, lies, bluffs and tricks which helped the British win World War I and World War II.

  • 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199769176

Book Review A Genius for Deception by Nicholas Rankin

My rating for A Genius for Deception4

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Thoughts:
A Genius for Deception by Nicholas Rankin is a fun and fascinating account of British military history in deception. As a fan of trivia, I especially enjoyed this book due to little known facts which were kept secret out of political or cultural necessity (for example, British officer Dudley Clarke was responsible for naming the SAS, British Commandos and US Army Rangers). Those who work in the deception field didn’t talk about what they did, or if they did talk made up stories and anyway, who would have believed the truth anyway.

Mr. Rankin covers a wide range of subjects: camouflage, counter intelligence, fabricated stories in newspapers and radio, the manufacturing of special units and whole armies. The stories are not always those of success, but not necessarily of defeat as well, the lines blur when it comes to deception and sometimes the outcome, while not as successful or as intended is still valuable.

The narrative style is conversational, as if talking to an uncle who remembers events as he rambles along. But don’t let the style fool you, the book is full of information and large in scope. The author manages to narrate amazing and secretive military operations without going too deeply into technical details.

The book is divided into sections (World War I and World War II) and within those sections the author separates the chapters either chronologically or logically (radio, etc.). Some of the conclusions are at the end of each chapter, but a very poignant conclusion the author makes at the end of the book: it seems countries diverted from deceiving their enemies to deceiving their own people.

This is an exciting book about military deception and camouflage from a British perspective during the two great wars. If you love, or even interested in, military history you will find this book fascinating.

Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic format

More Books by Nicholas Rankin

More Rec­om­mended World War II books on Man of la BookStore

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Disclaimer: I bought this book
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