By June 1940, most of Europe had fallen to the Nazis and Britain stood alone. To protect itself, the nation fell back on cunning and camouflage. With Winston Churchill in charge, the British bluffed their way out of trouble - lying, pretending and dressing up in order to survive. The British had developed this uncommon talent during the trench and desert fighting of the First World War, when writers and artists created elaborate camouflages and fiendish propaganda. So successful were these deceptions they gave rise to the German belief that they hadn't been beaten fairly - in which case why not 'have a second go'? By the Second World War, the British were masters of the art. Churchill adored stratagems, ingenious devices and special forces: pretend German radio stations broadcast outrageous British propaganda in German. British geniuses broke German secret codes and eavesdropped on their messages. Every German spy in Britain was captured and many were used to send back false information to their controllers. Forged documents misled their Intelligence. Bogus wireless traffic from entire phantom armies, dummy airfields with model planes, disguised ships and inflatable rubber tanks created a vital illusion of strength. Culminating in the spectacular misdirection that was so essential to the success of D-Day in 1944, Churchill's Wizards is a thrilling work of popular military history. Above all, Nicholas Rankin reveals the true stories of those brave and creative mavericks who helped win what Churchill called 'the war of the Unknown Warriors'.
"This is a story clamouring to be told. During the war we heard rumours, knew there was something called 'camouflage' going on but could not have imagined the scope of the inventiveness, the daring of these people's imaginations. What a galaxy of talents - designers of all kinds, real magicians, the make-up people, dyers, painters and inventors. The theatre and the military created whole armies, ships, navies, aircraft, arsenals of weapons out of shadows and illusions, out of fantasies and clever paint and trickery. I could not stop reading this book once I had begun."--Doris Lessing
"Many of the stories...have been told before, but Rankin has enhanced them with recently released papers and diaries. It is very good reading and provides an intimate look at the use of deception and those who made it work. This valuable book gives a new perspective to the history of the warfare and deception." -- Hayden B. Peake, CIA Historical Intelligence Collection
Nicholas Rankin (born 1950) is a British writer and broadcaster. Rankin spent twenty years broadcasting for BBC World Service where he was Chief Producer, Arts and won two UN awards. He has written three previous, highly praised books for Faber: Dead Man’s Chest, following in Robert Louis Stevenson’s footsteps from Scotland to Samoa; Telegram from Guernica, a biography of the ground-breaking war reporter G. L. Steer; and Churchill’s Wizards, a study of British camouflage and deception in the two world wars. Nicholas Rankin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009.