The Ghost Army of World War II

  • by Rick Beyer, Elizabeth Sayles
  • Narrated by Tom Stechschulte
  • 4 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs - including such future luminaries as Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Singer, Victor Dowd, Art Kane, and Jack Masey - landed in France to conduct a secret mission. Armed with truckloads of inflatable tanks, a massive collection of sound-effects records, and more than a few tricks up their sleeves, their job was to create a traveling road show of deception on the battlefields of Europe, with the German army as their audience.
From Normandy to the Rhine, the 1,100 men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the Ghost Army, conjured up phony convoys, phantom divisions, and make-believe headquarters to fool the enemy about the strength and location of American units. Between missions, the artists filled their duffel bags with drawings and paintings and dragged them across Europe. Every move they made was top secret, and their story was hushed up for decades after the war's end. The Ghost Army of World War II is the first publication to tell the full story of how a traveling road show of artists wielding imagination, paint, and bravado saved thousands of American lives.

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What the Critics Say

"The Ghost Army of World War II describes a perfect example of a little-known, highly imaginative, and daring maneuver that helped open the way for the final drive to Germany. It is a riveting tale told through personal accounts and sketches along the way - ultimately, a story of success against great odds. I enjoyed it enormously." (Tom Brokaw)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Riveting Bit of WWII History

This is a different type of World War II history book. I understand this book was made into a documentary film.

The 23rd headquarters special troop consisted of 1,100 men who were artists, designers, sound experts and actors. They landed in France in the summer of 1944. They set about impersonating entire Army Divisions. They had 90 pound inflatable tanks, recorded sounds of trucks, tanks and other vehicles. They played there recordings over loudspeakers as it they were going through the countryside. They also played radio “messages” with misinformation about troop movements. They also used officer impersonations to create misinformation. At times the unit protected Patton’s flank. They had all the various Divisions’ patches and were frequently having to repaint the vehicles with Division and company markings to help fool German observers.

Deception has long been a tool of war; think of the Trojan horse but this is more like Hollywood goes to war. The 23rd was the first U.S. Army unit dedicated only to deception. The British have a long tradition of dedicated units. In WWII the British Unit had some very famous men such as Ian Fleming and David Nevin.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The authors had access to diaries, artist sketchbooks, on scene photographs and other first person accounts, memos, maps and other documents. Tom Stechschulte did a good job narrating the book. Stechschulte is a film and television actor that has a successful career narrating audiobooks. I purchased the book while listening to the audiobook because the book had lots of maps, photographs and sketches.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Bring a balloon to a gun fight.

Unbelievable courage to hold off one of the most notorious armies in history with a bunch of speakers and balloons. They couldn't even tell their allies to either side that they were essentially unarmed. They pulled off their mission PERFECTLY as evidenced by the fact that any of them survived. It is a great story and it is worth listening to. Attention to details is incredible where they considered things that would have given away the deception and find a way to make it work.
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- Tyler J. "tjaco"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-08-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios