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Ritchie Boy Secrets: How a Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II

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In June 1942, the U.S. Army began recruiting immigrants, the children of immigrants, refugees, and others with language skills and knowledge of enemy lands and cultures for a special military intelligence group being trained in the mountains of northern Maryland and sent into Europe and the Pacific. Ultimately, 15,000 men and some women received this specialized training a In June 1942, the U.S. Army began recruiting immigrants, the children of immigrants, refugees, and others with language skills and knowledge of enemy lands and cultures for a special military intelligence group being trained in the mountains of northern Maryland and sent into Europe and the Pacific. Ultimately, 15,000 men and some women received this specialized training and went on to make vital contributions to victory in World War II. This is their story, which Beverley Driver Eddy tells thoroughly and colorfully, drawing heavily on interviews with surviving Ritchie Boys. The army recruited not just those fluent in German, French, Italian, and Polish (approximately a fifth were Jewish refugees from Europe), but also Arabic, Japanese, Dutch, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Turkish, and other languages—as well as some 200 Native Americans and 200 WACs. They were trained in photo interpretation, terrain analysis, POW interrogation, counterintelligence, espionage, signal intelligence (including pigeons), mapmaking, intelligence gathering, and close combat. Many landed in France on D-Day. Many more fanned out across Europe and around the world completing their missions, often in cooperation with the OSS and Counterintelligence Corps, sometimes on the front lines, often behind the lines. The Ritchie Boys’ intelligence proved vital during the liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge. They helped craft the print and radio propaganda that wore down German homefront morale. If caught, they could have been executed as spies. After the war they translated and interrogated at the Nuremberg trials. One participated in using war criminal Klaus Barbie as an anti-communist agent. This is a different kind of World War II story, and Eddy tells it with conviction, supported by years of research and interviews.


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In June 1942, the U.S. Army began recruiting immigrants, the children of immigrants, refugees, and others with language skills and knowledge of enemy lands and cultures for a special military intelligence group being trained in the mountains of northern Maryland and sent into Europe and the Pacific. Ultimately, 15,000 men and some women received this specialized training a In June 1942, the U.S. Army began recruiting immigrants, the children of immigrants, refugees, and others with language skills and knowledge of enemy lands and cultures for a special military intelligence group being trained in the mountains of northern Maryland and sent into Europe and the Pacific. Ultimately, 15,000 men and some women received this specialized training and went on to make vital contributions to victory in World War II. This is their story, which Beverley Driver Eddy tells thoroughly and colorfully, drawing heavily on interviews with surviving Ritchie Boys. The army recruited not just those fluent in German, French, Italian, and Polish (approximately a fifth were Jewish refugees from Europe), but also Arabic, Japanese, Dutch, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Turkish, and other languages—as well as some 200 Native Americans and 200 WACs. They were trained in photo interpretation, terrain analysis, POW interrogation, counterintelligence, espionage, signal intelligence (including pigeons), mapmaking, intelligence gathering, and close combat. Many landed in France on D-Day. Many more fanned out across Europe and around the world completing their missions, often in cooperation with the OSS and Counterintelligence Corps, sometimes on the front lines, often behind the lines. The Ritchie Boys’ intelligence proved vital during the liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge. They helped craft the print and radio propaganda that wore down German homefront morale. If caught, they could have been executed as spies. After the war they translated and interrogated at the Nuremberg trials. One participated in using war criminal Klaus Barbie as an anti-communist agent. This is a different kind of World War II story, and Eddy tells it with conviction, supported by years of research and interviews.

37 review for Ritchie Boy Secrets: How a Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eugenea Pollock

    Too tedious to continue—like reading a big, boring research paper.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Hill

    Camp Ritchie was where more than 15,000 men and women, mostly immigrants, children of immigrants, and refugees, were trained in various specialized military intelligence topics. These included interrogation of enemy prisoners of war, aerial photo interpretation, terrain intelligence, signal intelligence, and other topics. This book is primarily about the camp (its founding, organization, and operation). It seems like every possible topic relating to camp instruction and the students who received Camp Ritchie was where more than 15,000 men and women, mostly immigrants, children of immigrants, and refugees, were trained in various specialized military intelligence topics. These included interrogation of enemy prisoners of war, aerial photo interpretation, terrain intelligence, signal intelligence, and other topics. This book is primarily about the camp (its founding, organization, and operation). It seems like every possible topic relating to camp instruction and the students who received it is covered. The last few chapters give short thumbnail biographies of several of the graduates. These short (typically a few paragraphs) sketches are varied and fascinating. I found the information about the Composite School Unit particularly interesting. This is the unit that, for training purposes, operated as an enemy force. They wore enemy uniforms with proper insignia and used enemy weapons and vehicles. They were mostly "playing" as Germans, but not exclusively. If you're looking for in-depth stories of the "Ritchie Boys", this is not the best book. But if you want a fuller understanding of what Camp Ritchie provided, this book is for you. The camp trained men (and women) in so many important topics that the story of the camp can't really be told from the viewpoint of a small number of its graduates.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    This is not just another Publish or Perish book! It is an in depth into things that Military Intelligence and the OSS were up to here in Maryland/Pennsylvania in WW2 to keep the country's intelligence community informed. Complete with photo reproductions from the National Archives and Records Administration and other sources. It also exposes the biases of the day in the military and elsewhere. I hadn't been exposed to this information in the past, but I did find it mostly riveting (there are a c This is not just another Publish or Perish book! It is an in depth into things that Military Intelligence and the OSS were up to here in Maryland/Pennsylvania in WW2 to keep the country's intelligence community informed. Complete with photo reproductions from the National Archives and Records Administration and other sources. It also exposes the biases of the day in the military and elsewhere. I hadn't been exposed to this information in the past, but I did find it mostly riveting (there are a couple of chapters I found as delightful as *The Begats*). I hope that some of the better historical novelists will take this information and run with it! I think that it is all fascinating and all the better because it is well-researched and documented nonfiction. I requested and received a free temporary ebook from Rowman & Littlefield/Stackpole Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ron Baumer

    What a terrific read! The book was totally interesting and kept my attention. The author does an outstanding job of explaining the various functions of the camp. In addition, the use of first hand accounts and short excerpts about various individuals really brought the story to life. This is a must read for any history enthusiast. Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I gave the books three stars for having been incredibly well-researched, for having been very informative, and for having given such a detailed account of the camp. I would have rated it higher had it not (in the words of another Goodreads reviewer) read like a "big, boring research paper". I gave the books three stars for having been incredibly well-researched, for having been very informative, and for having given such a detailed account of the camp. I would have rated it higher had it not (in the words of another Goodreads reviewer) read like a "big, boring research paper".

  6. 5 out of 5

    Achintya Kumar

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maura Cahill

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  10. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dipanjan Datta

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liz V.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  14. 4 out of 5

    AshleyB

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lee

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

  18. 5 out of 5

    Natalie H.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna M.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  21. 5 out of 5

    Drue Marr

  22. 4 out of 5

    David

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ann

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joanie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ken

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teelei

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Maddox

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roger E. Levien

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  33. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

  34. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  35. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  36. 4 out of 5

    DHDanley

  37. 4 out of 5

    Nora

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