Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

by Annie Jacobsen


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The explosive story of America's secret post-WWII science programs, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51

In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich's scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis' once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to bring Hitler's scientists and their families to the United States.

Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War?

Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including previously unseen papers made available by direct descendants of the Third Reich's ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and dossiers discovered in government archives and at Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into a startling, complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secret of the twentieth century.

In this definitive, controversial look at one of America's most strategic, and disturbing, government programs, Jacobsen shows just how dark government can get in the name of national security.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316221030
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 01/20/2015
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 17,307
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Annie Jacobsen was a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine and is the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Part I

Chapter 1 The War and the Weapons 3

Chapter 2 Destruction 21

Chapter 3 The Hunters and the Hunted 35

Chapter 4 Liberation 46

Chapter 5 The Captured and Their Interrogators 65

Part II

Chapter 6 Harnessing the Chariot of Destruction 87

Chapter 7 Hitler's Doctors 108

Chapter 8 Black, White, and Gray 133

Chapter 9 Hitler's Chemists 142

Chapter 10 Hired or Hanged 166

Part III

Chapter 11 The Ticking Clock 191

Chapter 12 Total War of Apocalyptic Proportions 219

Chapter 13 Science at Any Price 247

Chapter 14 Strange Judgment 266

Part IV

Chapter 15 Chemical Menace 279

Chapter 16 Headless Monster 299

Chapter 17 Hall of Mirrors 322

Chapter 18 Downfall 348

Chapter 19 Truth Serum 364

Part V

Chapter 20 In the Dark Shadows 375

Chapter 21 Limelight 393

Chapter 22 Legacy 413

Chapter 23 What Lasts? 424

Afterword 439

Acknowledgments 446

Principal Characters 451

Notes 463

Author Interviews and Bibliography 543

Index 567

Reading Group Guide 583

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Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nazi Germany is always a fascinating topic. This book brilliantly details the U.S. government’s mission to acquire Nazi scientists after WWII. It is well researched and very had to put down. High marks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thought provoking, mind-blowing page turner that will make you re-consider everything you thought you knew about America's technological advancements during the Cold War. Did America recruit NAZI war criminals to help build the Cold War era Defense, Intelligence and Space Military Industrial Complex. Yes, indeed. Did America's scientific, intelligence and military establishment fall into a moral quagmire in its efforts to hide this truth from the public. Probably. Worse yet was the subtle way in which the NAZI's Machiavellian approach to experiments on human subjects was put into practice by American researchers in our effort to stay ahead of the Soviet Union. But the book also does a great job of capturing the human interest side of the story whether of NAZI scientists, their families, their surviving victims, and the flawed American military and scientific leaders responsible for their fate.  I recommend this book to all those with an interest in WWII/Cold War History, NBC operations, intelligence operations, the space program, conspiracy and investigative journalism. Operation Paperclip will certainly become the standard reference work on this subject. This is the third and by far best book by investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen.  But I also enjoyed and recommend her previous books, Terror in the Skies (especially given the mystery of Malaysian Airlines flight 370) and Area 51.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a fascinating read. For anyone with an interest in science, history, or WWII, this one is for you. Jacobsen has managed to dig up Operation Paperclip and present it to us in a can't-put-down way. I would have given five stars, but I occasionally felt as though the narrative wandered. Really enjoyed this.
MichaelTheAuthorMG More than 1 year ago
What no reviewer seems to have pointed out is the apparent superiority of German universities such as those at Goettingen and Tuebingen, whose scientific graduates, while no more intelligent than their U.S. or British counterparts, were light-years ahead in military applications of physics and chemistry. No other country's scientists were capable of producing the V-2 rockets or -- Sputnik's German creators not excepted -- satellites. German exchange students in our high schools regularly report that they aren't being taught anything that they haven't already learned. John J. McCloy's view that it was preferable to employ even virulently anti-Semitic Nazi scientists in our military-industrial complex rather than allow the Soviets to reap the advantages of their contributions is arguably cogent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was well written, informative, objective in reporting and a story that every American should know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i was looking for more of the new tech and the book was mostly about the politics...
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efm More than 1 year ago
Great Reading: Fascinating story of Nazi Scientists and their evil and good contributions to society. raises a lot of moral questions as to the US using them.