The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II

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( 216 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781469281193: The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II

Like a scene from Where Eagles Dare, a small team of American special operatives parachutes into Italy, landing under the noses of thousands of German troops. Their orders: link up with local partisans in the mountains and sabotage the well-guarded Brenner Pass, the crucial route through the Alps for the Nazi war machine. Without the supplies that travel this route, the German war effort in Italy will grind to a halt.

Using thousands of recently declassified files, personal interviews, and private documents, including a behind-the-lines diary buried in a bottle, military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell has written a cinematic World War II adventure story. The unforgettable cast of characters includes the dashing and daring team leader; the romantic idealist who plans the operation; the seductive Italian countess who is also a double-agent; and the maniacal SS officer who will stop at nothing to kill the team and their partisan collaborators. The Brenner Assignment is also a World War II story that resonates today, revealing lessons for the war on terror and illustrating the complex nature of insurgency.

Packed with action, suspense, intrigue, and even romance, this exciting true tale of survival and sabotage behind enemy lines is one of the greatest untold adventure stories of World War II.

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About the Author:

Patrick K. O’Donnell is a military historian and the author of four previous books: Beyond Valor, winner of the prestigious William E. Colby Award for Outstanding Military History; Into the Rising Sun; Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs; and the highly acclaimed We Were One, about a Marine platoon in the Battle of Fallujah. He has provided historical consulting for DreamWorks’s award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers and for documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, and Fox News. He is an expert on WWII espionage and special operations, and he is also the founder of the Drop Zone (www.thedropzone.org), an award-winning online oral history Web site. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Review:

The Advocate , 10/11/08
“As strange and glorious as the most wildly conceived espionage fiction...Prose that could come right out of a spy thriller...O’Donnell is not only a first-rate historian, he’s a world-class storyteller...He fleshes out history with a combination of hard evidence and intimate biography of the major players. If this were fiction, it would be remarkable; as an overlooked piece of world war history, it’s priceless.” Deseret News , 11/23/08
“If moviemakers ever run out of material for James Bond movies, they could always Anglicize the true stories of heroic American war saboteurs Stephen Hall and Albert Chappell...O'Donnell's story is compelling because the author has done so much legwork... World War II book lovers should enjoy  The Brenner Assignment  for the larger-than-life risks and successes of a few daring American paratroopers...O'Donnell's valuable history certainly proved one thing: More than 63 years after it ended, World War II still has incredible stories to tell.” 

Bookviews.com, 4/09
“O’Donnell is a skilled military historian...Anyone with an interest in WWII will want to read [this] excellent book.” Military.com
“Beginning with an inherently engaging tale of wartime derring-do, the author adds extensive research—from the OSS files at the National Archives to interviews with eyewitnesses including Italian partisans and the 90-year-old Chappell—and sprightly prose. The result is a first-rate spy tale.” Internet Review of Books , October 2008
“This book cries out to be made into a movie. Two heroes on the same quest, a grand setting, evil Germans, spies and traitors, and a beautiful countess. What more would it need?...A tale untold until now...It’s a great story...Anyone interested in the details of a struggle as full of cruelty and heroism as any war has ever been will keep turning the pages right through to the end.” Library Journal , 10/15/08
“This exciting narrative of war at the personal level will be a good supplement to subject collections." Rocky Mountain News , 11/6/08
“O'Donnell draws from primary documents and interviews with the story's main characters, lending the story historical truth...A valuable read for WWII buffs.”

Infodad.com. 11/20/08
“The book’s story is told with novelistic, even cinematic impact, and is sure to thrill fans of the derring-do of that war...O’Donnell writes nonfiction as if he is creating a thriller...He effectively presents not only the American operatives but also their enemies...And he traces the Brenner Pass assignment carefully, including what went right and what went wrong—bringing to life the small triumphs and failures that, collectively, can win or lose a war...O’Donnell’s use of primary sources is impressive, as is his ability to knit the various parts of this story together. It is a well-told, true tale.” HistoryWire.com, 11/20/08
“[A] made-for-the-movies saga.” Washington Post Express , 11/19/08
“In stark yet evocative prose, O'Donnell deftly shows how a young, idealistic Army lieutenant attempted to cut off access to the Brenner Pass.”

Providence Journal
, 12/7/08
“Tell[s] for the first time the real-life story of how Office of Strategic Services warriors worked behind enemy lines to shut off the supply channels of Nazi Germany into Italy...The classic spy story O’Donnell succeeds in creating is complex, suspenseful, romantic, and reads like fiction.”


America in WWII
, 02/09
“O’Donnell, who wrote brilliantly of the current Iraq War in  We Were One , has revealed a little-known story of World War II...in fast-moving and engaging prose...Read[s] like a good suspense or spy novel. O’Donnell entertains thoroughly while bringing to light a locale and struggle few students of the war know about.”

Italian America
, Winter 2009
“For the first time, the facts behind the most daring covert operation of WW II are revealed in this true adventure story...Tapping thousands of recently declassified files, documents and interviews, author O’Donnell tells how American Special Ops military worked with Italian partisans behind enemy lines.” 


Augusta Metro Spirit
, 11/26/08
“For the first time, the most daring operation of World War II is brought into the light in a wonderfully crafted narrative...Most readers will have to remind themselves they are reading a non-fiction account...Interested in military history or thrilling stories, here’s a powerful combination of the two.” PopMatters.com, 12/4/08
“A story not widely known of unbelievable bravery, heroism, and commitment...A gripping old-fashioned tale of good (American agents and Italian Partisans) vs. evil (Nazi SS and Gestapo) with evil finally defeated and made to atone...Written with cinematic pacing and simplicity and with a cast of characters that are reminiscent of the black and white war films made during the war or shortly after.”

BiblioBuffet, 10/5/08
“[It] has captured my attention so thoroughly it was hard to put down...The story that is emerging (even from the first few pages) is thrilling. I can already recommend this.”

Washington Post Express
, 11/19/08
“The story of an improbable and important WWII mission—one that’s never been told before.”


Brunswick Times Record
, 7/10/09
“Reads like a well-crafted adventure novel, loaded with spies, double agents, villains, heroes, action, and suspense, but most remarkably, it is all true. O’Donnell is a masterful storyteller, a writer with a keen eye for detail, historical accuracy, and human drama.”

“Yes, this is a history book, complete with endnotes, illustrations, and maps. However, if you did not know that fact in advance, you would think that this is a spine-chilling espionage thriller penned by the likes of John le Carré, Alistair McLean, Tom Clancy, or Ted Bell. In short, [it] is a ripping good read that just happens to be absolutely true!...O'Donnell's detailed research into this mission and his authoritative account will enthrall historians of every ilk, but especially those with an interest in World War II and espionage history. I highly recommend the  The Brenner Assignment . It is by far the most riveting history book that I've ever read!”


Military Officer
, 4/09
“The dramatic and exciting true story of two OSS teams, led by bold and audacious U.S. Army officers, that battled bitter weather, forbidding terrain, relentless German pursuit, ruthless Gestapo interrogations, and traitor betrayal in an effort to blow up the bridges, roads, and tunnels that led to the Brenner Pass. This is a remarkable tale of heroism, loyalty, war crimes, and bloody retribution, as Americans and partisans fought side-by-side deep behind enemy lines.”

Smoke
, 4/09
“Explores one of the most dangerous covert operations of World War II...The never-before-told account of a handful of brave men who were dropped into enemy territory with orders to cut off access to the Brenner Pass by any means.”

World War II Forums, 5/12/09
“A compelling drama that reads as part-history and part adventure story...O’Donnell provides excellent insight into the daily life of OSS agents who operated behind enemy lines for months at a time...A thoroughly enjoyable book...The tension builds from the first page.”

WETA.org, 5/5/09
“Not just a piece of properly and exhaustively researched military history, but a great story: Shady ladies (an evil Nazi mistress, a beautiful and brave countess), treacherous terrain, and many brave, loyal soldiers (some of whom are still alive today).”

 Bookgasm.com, 11/08
“The best spy thriller of the year is a true account of one Howard Chappell, a captain who was one of the first OSS operatives...This is material that could not be made up. The story is told through not only detailed notes of missions, but of Chappell’s personal diaries, where you just feel for what he must have been going through. It is jaw-dropping that everything in  The Brenner Assignment  is 100 percent real, making the writings of certain spy masters look like fairy tales...This is no Hollywood tale where things are tied up nicely, making this book even more of a must-read, since there are moments where you can’t believe what is going on and how these people pulled off these missions... Brenner  could easily be referred to as the real-life Where Eagles Dare, but that would be a disservice to the men behind this history...O’Donnell has created a work of non-fiction that surpasses the greatest works of spy fiction.” 

Kirkus Reviews
“O’Donnell clearly enjoys narrating war’s gristle along with its meat; small successes and failures ground the story in the reality of sabotage, reconnaissance, capture and escape, torture and murder. Along the way, the participants’ motivations, allegiances, thoughts and actions come alive in vigorous, exciting prose. A taut real-life thriller.” Charles Pinck, President, The OSS Society
The Brenner Assignment ” is an important contribution to the still unfolding history of the Office of Strategic Services, perhaps the most remarkable organization in American history. A fascinating tale of brains, brawn, and bravado.” Rick Atkinson, author of  Day of Battle
“Remarkable and very readable. Patrick O’Donnell has transformed an obscure World War II spy mission into a vivid and improbable adventure yarn.” John C. McManus, author of  The Americans at D-Day  and  Alamo in the Ardennes
“Patrick O’Donnell is a first-rate storyteller and one of our most perceptive historians. Few writers give as much of themselves to bring history to life.  The Brenner Assignment  is vintage O’Donnell—a pulse-pounding thriller that reads like a novel.” 

ForeWord , 2/09
“A gripping account of historical detection...[A] story of heroism during the final, critical days of the war that will appeal to all military history buffs.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 2/6/09
“This mission has everything: derring-do, romance, battles against tough odds, and lots of intrigue. O'Donnell tells it in an interesting fashion, and it would look good on any World War II history fan's bookshelf...A wonderful read, an intriguing story of clandestine operations in World War II, of heroism, sacrifice, tenacity, and romance...A thrilling story that will keep the reader captivated from beginning to end.”

World War II
, Feb/March 2009
“[A] cinematic true account...O’Donnell is an assiduous researcher...He opens a wide vista onto impressive, little known exploits.”

Magill Book Reviews
“A fascinating tale...The first substantive work devoted to perhaps the most difficult and dangerous mission conducted by the Office of Strategic Services...Written in an engaging style, the book can be highly recommended to readers interested in World War II as well as anyone who enjoys an exciting story of personal courage and sacrifice for a cause.”

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