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Profiles the virtually unknown 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, an elite, thousand-man "ghost army" consisting of a group of American artists, designers, writers, and electronics and sound engineers--including fashion tycoon Bill Blass, painter Ellsworth Kelly, and artist Hal Laynor--that helped win the Battle of Europe by creating a series of extraordinary battlefield deceptions to fool the German high command. Reprint.
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Philip Gerard is the author of three acclaimed novels and two works of nonfiction, including Creative Nonfiction. He has written eleven documentary scripts for public television, has contributed to NPR's "All Things Considered," is a frequent panelist, and has served on the faculty of writing conferences nationwide. He currently holds a distinguished teaching professorship in the creative writing department of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.From Booklist:
Theater designers, sound technicians, painters--these are not at first glance the kind of vocations that bring to mind war heroics until one considers their record of deception in war. One operation famously fooled the Germans about where D-Day would land; less well known are the doings of the unit Gerard has brought to light. In this originally researched saga of the Twenty-third Headquarters Special Troops, Gerard explains that actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. lobbied to have a deception unit created. Press flack Hilton Howell Railey was appointed to assemble the troops, and he picked creative people (including future fashion plate Bill Blass) attuned to visuals vital to deception. Once shipped to Europe, the Twenty-third, now under the command of a career officer, tried to perpetrate frauds on the Germans by posing either as fake divisions or as real divisions that were actually posted elsewhere. Gerard interviewed veterans and read their war papers in doing research for his book, and their personal experiences are the highlight of this work. Fresh material for the WWII shelf. Gilbert Taylor
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