Secret Weapons: Death Rays, Doodlebugs, and Churchill’s Golden Goose

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When it comes to innovation across all fields of science and technology, it’s hard to find a more prolific or influential time period than the Second World War. From weapons to medicine, clothing to electronics, a staggering number of inventions both mundane and monstrous can trace their lineage to the days of the Allies battling the Axis Powers.

In Secret Weapons: Death Rays, Doodlebugs, and Churchill’s Golden Goose, Ford regales the reader with dozens of stories of technological development during wartime, mixing wondrous breakthroughs with unsettling horrors in order to give the reader the full spectrum of militarized development. From gliders forgotten by the submarines that launched them to the secret behind the Dam Busters’ bouncing bomb, Ford’s research is first-rate and his attention to detail is undeniable. (At least when it comes to militaria. He did attribute Star Wars to Steven Spielberg.)

Admittedly, “Doomed to Fail” was my favorite chapter despite the lighthearted intent, if only because it’s rather sobering to compare the insane ideas that didn’t work with the insane ideas that did. And that’s the real dichotomy of Secret Weapons: it’s fascinating, but horrifying. Nonetheless, it’s a worthwhile chronicle of an unforgettable time in innovation.


Reviewed By:

Author Brian J. Ford
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 280 pages
Publisher Osprey
Publish Date 2013-Sep-17
ISBN 9781780967219
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2014
Category History
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