In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich's scientific minds. Read more...
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In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich's scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis' once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to bring Hitler's scientists and their families to the United States.
Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War?
Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including previously unseen papers made available by direct descendants of the Third Reich's ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and dossiers discovered in government archives and at Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into a startling, complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secret of the twentieth century.
In this definitive, controversial look at one of America's most strategic, and disturbing, government programs, Jacobsen shows just how dark government can get in the name of national security.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-12-09
- Reviewer: Staff
As comprehensive as it is critical, this latest exposé from Jacobsen (Area 51) is perhaps her most important work to date. Though Americans are quick to remember the United States’ heroic feats in WWII, they tend to be more amnesic (or allergic) toward some of our nation’s shadier activities in the effort—one of which seems to have been forgotten altogether. For just as some Nazis awaited trial at Nuremburg, others—namely prominent, potentially useful scientists—were secretly smuggled into the country by the U.S. government to help prepare for an ostensibly impending “total war” with the Soviets. In fact, even an appearance at Nuremburg didn’t rule out a trip to the States. Needless to say, what to do with potentially useful war criminals posed an unusual predicament. If such a claim sounds dubious, Jacobsen persuasively shows that it in fact happened and aptly frames the dilemma in terms of “Who would be hired, and who would be hanged?” Rife with hypocrisy, lies, and deceit, Jacobsen’s story explores a conveniently overlooked bit of history the significance of which continues to resonate in the national security issues of today. (Feb.)