Book Review Thursday: Dark Invasion

DarkInvasionAfter reading this book you will wonder what took Woodrow Wilson so long to enter World War I.  While the United States didn’t enter that war until April of 1917, the country had been under siege for quite some time from a foreign intelligence organization, carried out in the form of bombs (ships, canals, ports), germ warfare, murder and attempted assassination.

Author Howard Blum’s book, Dark Invasion, is inspired by a CIA report published after the 9/11 attacks, entitled Studies in Intelligence: Protecting the Homeland the First Time Around.  Written by a member of the CIA’s history department, the report centers on the efforts of Captain Thomas J. Tunney who was the head of the New York Police Department Bomb Squad from 1913 to 1917.

Tunney and his team were first presented an almost impossible task, yet they methodically worked through the maze of mysterious events and shady characters to eventually discover the presence of a vast German terrorist organization working within the United States.  Astonishingly, the entire German operation was run by the German ambassador to the United States, Count Johann von Bernstorff.

There was a vast network of operatives and Germany recruited more as needed in their efforts to prevent the United States from trading with their Allies in Europe (Germany’s enemies).  Bombs were surreptitiously placed on ships heading to Europe carrying much-needed supplies and ammunition, set to go off after the ship had been sailing for a few days.

The Germans also conceived the idea of using germ warfare by infecting horses and mules with deadly diseases before they could be shipped abroad.  When they needed more operatives working in America, they mass produced forged passports.  Some of those given forged passports smuggled deadly germ cultures to America’s shores.

The Germans sought out sympathizers in America as well – those who had immigrated from Germany were prime candidates, as were other disaffected groups such as Irish dockworkers.  One stunning plot uncovered was a plan by Germany to court support from both Japan and Mexico for them in the war – in exchange for Mexico’s support they promised to help Mexico “regain by conquest her lost territory in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.”

As it turned out, Tunney’s Bomb Squad were the real heroes, the ones who got the job done.  The federal agencies such as the Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service and various military intelligence agencies proved ineffective and disorganized.

The book is a fascinating read, especially if you’re interested in espionage or World War I history and background.  Howard Blum is meticulous with details and the story he crafted is intriguing and will hold your interest.  I plan to read more of his books in the future.  As I read the book I thought it would make a great movie, and indeed it will because according to the author’s web site it has been optioned, but don’t wait for the movie to come out – pick up a copy and enjoy!

Rating:  ★★★★★

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.


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