Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 3 Jun 2015
Full Title: Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS
Prior to WW2, the Americans lacked capability in intelligence gathering and sabotage. Although the leadership of the Office of Strategic Services had its share of growing pains and blunders, the agents deployed behind enemy lines did not lack wit and courage. Patrick K. O'Donnell's Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs was a high level overview of the OSS, combining the history of the agency's evolution, description of its organization, and snippets from the memoirs of its agents. The author did a great job narrating the thrilling missions, some yielding handsome returns while others ended in tragic failure, all told with excitement. What the author did poorly on, in my personal opinion, was that he presented William Donovan and the OSS as nearly perfect, going in depth into their greatest successes while glossing over their many mistakes. The conclusion that the OSS' work directly hastened the end of the European War was a bit far fetched.
Christopher Lane did a good job performing in the audio book format of this title. I could not tell whether his accent while playing French agents, Yugoslavian agents, Greek agents, and German agents were all perfect, but in a book with a large cast of characters spanning across a vast span of the globe, I enjoyed and appreciated his voice acting.
While I enjoyed the reminiscences of the agents, I found Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs to be mostly lacking. I would recommend it purely on the narratives of the missions, but I had certainly come across many more accurate and more critical histories of the OSS previously.
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal