The truth not only had a bodyguard of lies it was also well camouflaged.


Production. A-31 ("Vengeance") dive bombers. Camouflaging the ship. A Vultee "Vengeance" dive bomber manufactured at Vultee's Nashville Division is shown attached to the overhead mechanized assembly line trolly. The dive bomber has just entered the huge paint spray booth where it is receiving its camouflage painting treatment before moving to the next station. The "Vengeance" (A-31) was originally designed for the French. It was later adopted by the RAF (Royal Air Force) and still later by the U.S. Army Air Forces. It is a single-engine, low-wing plane, carrying a crew of two men and having six machine guns of varying calibers

Production. A-31 (“Vengeance”) dive bombers. Camouflaging the ship. A Vultee “Vengeance” dive bomber manufactured at Vultee’s Nashville Division is shown attached to the overhead mechanized assembly line trolly. The dive bomber has just entered the huge paint spray booth where it is receiving its camouflage painting treatment before moving to the next station. The “Vengeance” (A-31) was originally designed for the French. It was later adopted by the RAF (Royal Air Force) and still later by the U.S. Army Air Forces. It is a single-engine, low-wing plane, carrying a crew of two men and having six machine guns of varying calibers

Contrary to popular opinion and the recent historical record the British invented neither cunning nor deception. While this book covers many of their better publicized efforts we have illustrated the entry with photographs of the largely American efforts during the two world wars – it was, after all, the Americans who won both wars after Britain’s mismanagement and near collapse.

New York, New York. Architect taking a night course in camouflage at New York University in order to find a good spot for his talents in the United States Army or in industry. The class is taught by having the students make models from photographs, camouflage them and rephotograph them

New York, New York. Architect taking a night course in camouflage at New York University in order to find a good spot for his talents in the United States Army or in industry. The class is taught by having the students make models from photographs, camouflage them and rephotograph them

A genius for deception : how cunning helped the British win two world wars  Nicholas Rankin  Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009  Hardcover. First published in Great Britain as Churchill’s wizards : the British genius for deception, 1914-1945 in 2008 by Faber and Faber. 1st US ed., later printing. xiv, 466 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Seven images taken on November 12, 1918 at the American camouflage factory at Dijon, France. Images show Col. Brenner, the commander of camouflage work in the American Army, with a "dummy" soldier; stone and grass costumes for snipers, paper mache soldiers, a soldier holding a picture of a soldier's face on a stick, Col. Brenner and officers, and a hangar for large sheets used to cover airdromes.

Seven images taken on November 12, 1918 at the American camouflage factory at Dijon, France. Images show Col. Brenner, the commander of camouflage work in the American Army, with a “dummy” soldier; stone and grass costumes for snipers, paper mache soldiers, a soldier holding a picture of a soldier’s face on a stick, Col. Brenner and officers, and a hangar for large sheets used to cover airdromes.

In February 1942, intelligence officer Victor Jones erected 150 tents behind British lines in North Africa. “Hiding tanks in Bedouin tents was an old British trick,” writes Nicholas Rankin. German general Erwin Rommel not only knew of the ploy, but had copied it himself.  Jones knew that Rommel knew.  In fact, he counted on it – for these tents were empty. With the deception that he was carrying out a deception, Jones made a weak point look like a trap.

Camouflaged German gun position, beach in Quinéville Sketch showing house with missing roof with gun in doorway in Quinéville, Manche, France.

Camouflaged German gun position, beach in Quinéville Sketch showing house with missing roof with gun in doorway in Quinéville, Manche, France.

In A Genius for Deception, Nicholas Rankin offers a lively and comprehensive history of how Britain bluffed, tricked, and spied its way to victory in two world wars. As Rankin shows, a coherent program of strategic deception emerged in World War I, resting on the pillars of camouflage, propaganda, secret intelligence, and special forces. All forms of deception found an avid sponsor in Winston Churchill, who carried his enthusiasm for deceiving the enemy into World War II.

Private William Madison emerging from a foxhole concealed by a papier mache rock during a camouflage demonstration

Private William Madison emerging from a foxhole concealed by a papier mache rock during a camouflage demonstration

Rankin vividly recounts such little-known episodes as the invention of camouflage by two French artist-soldiers, the creation of dummy airfields for the Germans to bomb during the Blitz, and the fabrication of an army that would supposedly invade Greece. Strategic deception would be key to a number of WWII battles, culminating in the massive misdirection that proved critical to the success of the D-Day invasion in 1944.

Men on jungle patrol in the Caribbean area take fullest advantage of natural foliage for camouflage purposes. It takes a quick eye to see these men stealing through the jungles

Men on jungle patrol in the Caribbean area take fullest advantage of natural foliage for camouflage purposes. It takes a quick eye to see these men stealing through the jungles

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