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The Secret History of World War II

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From spy missions to code breaking, this richly illustrated account of the covert operations of World War II takes readers behind the battle lines and deep into the undercover war effort that changed the course of history.

From the authors who created Eyewitness to World War II and numerous other best-selling illustrated reference books, this is the shocking story behind the covert activity that shaped the outcome of one of the world’s greatest conflicts—and the destiny of millions of people. National Geographic’s landmark book illuminates World War II as never before by taking you inside the secret lives of spies and spy masters, secret agents and secret armies, Enigma machines and code breakers, psychological warfare and black propaganda, secret weapons and secret battle strategies.

Seven heavily illustrated narrative chapters reveal the truth behind the lies and deception that shaped the “secret war;” eight essays showcase hundreds of rare photos and artifacts (many never before seen); more than 50 specially created sidebars tell the stories of spies and secret operations. Renowned historian and top-selling author Stephen Hyslop reveals this little-known side of the war in captivating detail, weaving in extraordinary eyewitness accounts and information only recently declassified. Rare photographs, artifacts, and illuminating graphics enrich this absorbing reference book.


  • Hardcover
  • 352 pages; 730 color photographs
  • 9 1/8" x 10 7/8"
  • © 2016

Author Bio

Neil Kagan heads Kagan & Associates, Inc., a firm specializing in designing and producing innovative illustrated books. Formerly publisher/managing editor and director of new product development for Time-Life Books, he created numerous book series, including the award-winning Voices of the Civil War. Recently he edited Great Battles of the Civil War, Great Photography of the Civil War, and for National Geographic the best-selling books Concise History of the World, Eyewitness to the Civil War, The Untold Civil War, and Atlas of the Civil War.

Stephen G. Hyslop has written several books on American history, including National Geographic’s Eyewitness to the Civil War and Atlas of the Civil War. A former writer and editor at Time-Life Books, he contributed to many volumes on the Second World War, including Great Photographs of World War II, Lightning War, and Barbarossa. His articles have appeared in American History, World War II, and the History Channel magazine.



by PowerReviews
The Secret History of World War II

(based on 2 reviews)

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Yet another Great Book

By Chicshooter

from Hobbs, New Mexico

Verified Reviewer

Comments about The Secret History of World War II:

This was the third book we purchased for my son to read for his History lessons since I homeschool him. He loves these books. Highly recommended.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

(7 of 12 customers found this review helpful)


Implicitly Biased History

By DrJoe

from Baton Rouge, LA


  • Counterintelligence
  • Historic
  • Intriguing


  • Biased
  • Eurocentric
  • Limited

Best Uses

  • Case Study

Comments about The Secret History of World War II:

This book is a beautiful treatment of the uses of mis-information during the War. It is useful for teaching students of all types about psychological warfare. The artifacts and photos are arranged to tell a powerful story that is seldom appreciated.

However, its lack of diversity could be seen as a case study in the use of 'Black Propaganda.' Even the name of this technique, as contrasted with 'White Propaganda' in the text, could be considered an example of implicit bias because the historic contributions of all non-Europeans are simply missing. A narrative comprising only Europeans could be seen as a less vile meme than Aryan supremacy, but a form of supremacy just the same.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • Yes

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