World War I is often viewed as a war fought by armies of millions living and fighting in trenches, aided by brutal machinery that cost the lives of many. But behind all of this an intellectual war was also being fought between engineers, chemists, code-breakers, physicists, doctors, mathematicians, and intelligence gatherers. This hidden war was to make a positive and lasting contribution to how war was conducted on land, at sea, and in the air, and most importantly, life at home.Secret Warriors provides an invaluable and fresh history of the World War I, profiling a number of the key incidents and figures which lead to great leaps forward for the twentieth Century. Told in a lively and colorful narrative style, Secret Warriors reveals the unknown side of this tragic conflict.
Downing (Spies in the Sky), a British TV producer and writer, offers an ingenious history that sets aside WWI's immense slaughter in order to concentrate on those who labored behind the scenes (primarily in Britain). Though he fails to provide a unifying theme (an introductory chapter attempts to do so by describing the world-changing 19th-century advancements that defined the pre-WWI era), few readers will complain as they proceed through five unrelated but completely engrossing sections on aviation, intelligence, weapons, medicine, and communication. Even readers familiar with Bletchley Park's dazzling feats in WWII will marvel at how Britain was able to decipher Germany's military and diplomatic codes nearly from the start of WWI. Downing's fine history of the war's most notable weapons machine guns, tanks, poison gas precedes chapters giving even finer histories of vast advances in surgery (90% of wounded soldiers in WWI survived, versus 60% during the American Civil War) and sanitation (10% of deaths stemmed from disease in WWI, versus 70% in the Civil War). He also outlines how Hitler and Goebbels admired and emulated Britain's surprisingly effective journalism and propaganda operations during WWI, which have been adopted by countries at war ever since. For better or worse, these military developments remain with us, and Downing delivers a riveting account of how they happened. B&w photos.