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Growing up in the 1950s, I thought Audie Murphy and Van Johnson defeated the Axis powers in World War II through Spitfire battles and face-to-face combat while Allied troops from other countries stared in amazement. “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat,” by Giles Milton, destroyed that myth. In his concise history of behind-the scenes warfare, Milton places the most valuable English acts of sabotage espionage, weaponry development and bold partisan fighters within the war’s timeline. Winston Churchill recruited a diverse group who could make limpet bombs out of dime-store bowls and teach recruits how to kill adversaries barehanded. While some of the men and women were honored and continued their work into the Cold War, many died without public notice. I would have enjoyed having a beer with any of them. And I would certainly want them on my side.

Vicki Pieser, New Ulm

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