Secret Warriors: The Scientists, Spies, and Code Breakers of World War I.

Secret Warriors: The Scientists, Spies, and Code Breakers of World War I. Pegasus. Apr. 2015. 464p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781605986944. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605987507. HIST
Downing (Churchill's War Lab; Spies in the Sky) discusses the role of scientific advancement in the unfolding of World War I and divides his narrative into five sections: aviators such as John Moore-Brabazon, code breakers such as Alexander Denniston; engineers and chemists such as Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel; doctors and surgeons such as Harold Gillies, who later pioneered sexual reassignment surgery; and propagandists such as newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook, a member of Winston Churchill's cabinet. A helpful appendix, "Who's Who of Secret Warriors," contains brief biographical sketches of the more than 20 major players, many of whom were affiliated with Churchill in some aspect. In general, the content is engaging, providing an in-depth look at a subject that doesn't get its fair share of discussion within the military history genre. While history buffs will feel right at home, general readers of nonfiction may be put off by the frequent topic changes and nonlinear story thread, which at times makes this account read a bit like an exciting textbook. However, this is a very successful work. Downing's voice is clear and highly readable.
VERDICT This volume should be of interest to most readers, especially those interested in military history.
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