Does cover the secret programs that Churchill was a supporter of, but half the book is about Churchill's life and career. This was OK by me because I didn't know much about him.
Ever since Ian Fleming made his Mr. James Bond a world-wide phenomenon, recognition that innovations in science, engineering, and spycraft can decisively tip the balance in conflict has been taken as granted. But it wasn't always this way; indeed, well into history's largest wars, most national military establishments assumed they knew everything about war, and civilians -- even clever, inventive, and courageous ones -- should leave warfare entirely to the military experts. Two books by Taylor Downing show brilliantly how this thinking changed in Britain during the major wars of the Twentieth Century.
"Churchill's War Lab" is an excellent history of Mr. Churchill's management of Britain's limited resources during World War II. (It also functions as an uncritical biography of his actions in the other wars in which he served.) Readers who want a great narrative with much more technical details of the work done by British "boffins" during World War II might try "Wizard War" (a.k.a. "Most Secret War") by R. V. Jones.
Another, more recent book by Mr. Downing, "Secret Warriors," covers the same topic for World War One with far more emphasis on the work of British scientists, engineers, and spy masters during that conflict. (Mr. Chruchill makes an appearance here, as well, but the author treats him critically, noting how Mr. Churchill unintentionally hindered the use of intelligence during this war.) Both books are great, well-written treatments of this often-obscure topic, but "Churchill's War Lab" works better if the reader understands how the first two words are the real title.
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