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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.

42 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. 5 out of 5

    Irene Wittig

    More a thorough scholarly book than a creative non-fiction read, but I find it especially interesting because my mother's brother was a Ritchie Boy. It is gratifying and very meaningful to know how important the contributions of the Ritchie Boys were, as many if not most of them were refugees. . Previous books such as the one by Bruce Henderson, focused on Ritchie Boys who had come from Germany, but there were many from Austria as well. These Austrian-born Ritchie Boys have been studied and writ More a thorough scholarly book than a creative non-fiction read, but I find it especially interesting because my mother's brother was a Ritchie Boy. It is gratifying and very meaningful to know how important the contributions of the Ritchie Boys were, as many if not most of them were refugees. . Previous books such as the one by Bruce Henderson, focused on Ritchie Boys who had come from Germany, but there were many from Austria as well. These Austrian-born Ritchie Boys have been studied and written about by two researchers in Austria (Robert lacker and Florian Traussnig)

  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. 5 out of 5

    Landon

    A monograph relaying the story of the Ritchie Boys has long been overdue. Finally, some fifteen years after the release of Christian Bauer’s The Ritchie Boys, we see a comprehensive text which describes daily life inside Camp Ritchie, the Army Post which held the Military Intelligence Training Center during World War II. In Ritchie Boy Secrets: How A Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II by Beverley Driver Eddy, readers will experience an intimate look into military history wh A monograph relaying the story of the Ritchie Boys has long been overdue. Finally, some fifteen years after the release of Christian Bauer’s The Ritchie Boys, we see a comprehensive text which describes daily life inside Camp Ritchie, the Army Post which held the Military Intelligence Training Center during World War II. In Ritchie Boy Secrets: How A Force of Immigrants and Refugees Helped Win World War II by Beverley Driver Eddy, readers will experience an intimate look into military history which has remained largely unknown for nearly eighty years. Eddy’s deep dive into research on both Camp Ritchie and the Ritchie Boys is commendable. With the exception of Bruce Henderson’s 2017 work, Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler, there are scant writings of the Ritchie Boys’ tremendously important wartime efforts which were determined to have been responsible for obtaining more than 60% of actionable intelligence in the European Theater. No researcher or author has tackled Camp Ritchie’s history as thoroughly as Eddy and it is doubtful any text will ever match this level of research on this subject. While there are many more tales to be told regarding the nearly 20,000 Ritchie Boys who passed through the stone gates of Camp Ritchie, if a question about the Camp should arise, researchers should look no further than this text. The lengthy spread of primary and secondary sources utilized to draft this work is deeply impressive. Not only does Eddy highlight the increasingly well-known German and Austrian Enemy Aliens turned U.S. Citizen, but she also takes deep dives into topics which are rarely discussed in Camp Ritchie’s WWII timeline. For example, when Ritchie Boy Secrets was released, scholars investigating the Woman’s Army Corps or Japanese Nisei at Camp Ritchie would have a challenging time finding a substantial amount of information in one compiled location. In short, Eddy’s book should be considered the definitive history of Camp Ritchie. While the history of Fort Ritchie, which rose from Camp Ritchie in 1951 during the Korean War until its closure in 1998, will certainly deserve more attention when pertinent documents become available, there is no denying the utility of Eddy’s book. As the director and curator of the Ritchie History Museum, I can personally attest to the usefulness of the information within the pages of this text. When visitors tour the facility, nearly all of their questions can be answered by simply reading Ritchie Boy Secrets. Those who may feel the text is too descriptive are missing the fundamental purpose of compiling such a text. Even if one were to simply use this book for research, Eddy carefully breaks her chapters down chronologically, but also in a manner which are reminiscent of essays regarding each area of study. For example, if one wanted to solely research aerial photography and photo interpretation methods during World War II, they could easily consult with Eddy’s work, find excellent information, and continue on with their inquiries. For scholars and fanatics of the Second World War, the book deserves a full read. Each chapter contains information and stories that are highly interesting, comical, heartbreaking, and fantastically unbelievable. Dr. Eddy’s work here is, simply put, phenomenal and something which will remove the heavy lifting for historians for years to come. -Landon Grove Ritchie History Museum Director & Curator

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 4 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".

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

  9. 5 out of 5

    Achintya Kumar

  10. 4 out of 5

    Decaman

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maura Cahill

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amelia Daniels

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  15. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dipanjan Datta

  17. 5 out of 5

    Liz V.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  19. 5 out of 5

    AshleyB

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lee

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natalie H.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anna M.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  26. 4 out of 5

    Drue Marr

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joanie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

  31. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

  32. 4 out of 5

    Ken

  33. 5 out of 5

    Teelei

  34. 5 out of 5

    Lynda Maddox

  35. 4 out of 5

    Roger E. Levien

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  38. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

  39. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  40. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  41. 5 out of 5

    DHDanley

  42. 4 out of 5

    Nora

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