Peculiar Liaisons in War,
Espionage, and TerrorismÂ
of the Twentieth Century
By John S. Craig
During a time when "war on terrorism" is a household word, many of us reflect on events that have touched our lives. The old questions of "who, what, when, and where" somehow have become more real as we ponder what would lead individuals to force the crash of planes into buildings. Why would young people become suicide bombers? To many of us, it's "not quite real." Many times, there are no answers.
Peculiar Liaisons reads almost like a novel. Indeed for those who buy this book to gain a deeper understanding of what may have brought about today's events, it captures our interest and provides sufficient narrative to satisfy our needs. However, historians will want to add this book to their personal library. By selecting personalities who have played major roles in the century's history, Craig has provided a significant research effort that pulls together important individuals who played roles, sometimes behind the scenes and with less notoriety.
Captain Dragutin Dimitrijevic, was the first highlighted in Peculiar Liaisons. Known as "The Bull" or "Apis," Dimitrijevic slaughtered the Serbian king and queen, and later formed The Black Hand (with the aim of uniting all Serbs). He recruited young men infected with tuberculosis and promised these men with terminal disease a way to "make a mark" for Serbia through assassinations of enemies. One of his liaisons, a teenager named Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Austria-Hungary's heir apparent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This act helped trigger the nightmare of World War I.
Chapter Two provides an excellent overview of two historical legends, the "Queen and Ace of Spies." Mata Hari is one of the most famous spies, having been featured in several movies and books. About herself, she said, "she was a much better harlot than traitor." Her supposed liaisons included the Ace of Spies, Britain's Sidney Reilly, Admiral Wilmelm Canaris, as well as many other high-level officials during World War I. Interestingly, their legends may have become so complicated that their allegiance is still in question--for which countries did they spy and to which countries were they loyal? Even today, their lives remain mysteries.
Discussions and actions surrounding the development of bombs began in the late 30's.
Einstein wrote to President Roosevelt, which helped impel the creation of the Manhattan Project. The race for the atomic bomb was on! In 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The role of Colonel James Doolittle and others highlight this dramatic time in Chapter Four.
Peculiar Liaisons, in focusing on involved individuals and their relationships, has provided a solid base of information beyond headlines and the average history text.
In addition to covering significant historical actions since the beginning of the century, including World Wars I and II, Craig includes small tidbits from his research that often bring a smile or cause one to ponder:
Zoroaster, a man born in the sixth century BC, in what is now Iran, claimed to be the spokesman of the one true God. Zoroastrianism was the principal religion in Persia for approximately one thousand years. Three major religions followed. Many wars have been fought, presumably based on religion.
The German government published an official statement that no proof of the guilt of Mata Hari, known as the Queen of Spies, could be found.
Major R. Meinertzhagen, known as the Deception Master, once shared that when he met Hitler, Hitler came forward, threw up his arm and exclaimed "Heil Hitler." Thinking it odd to "heil" himself, he responded "Heil Meinertzhagen."
General Jimmy Doolittle led a volunteer group that was essentially a suicide mission, to exact retribution for the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Wernher von Braun, a captured Nazi, later became the chief designer of the rocket that sent Americans to the moon.
Fuchida, flight commander of the assault on Pearl Harbor, later was inspired by an American missionary, Jacob DeShazer, one of Doolittle's Raiders, and became a devout Christian and traveled the world teaching the message of forgiveness.
Henry Ford financially backed Adolf Hitler. Hitler told a reporter that he regarded Ford as his inspiration.
Ustasha administrator Vjekoslav Luboric moved hundreds of typhus-infected inmates to war camps that had been disease free in order to spread the disease.
General Heydrich was dishonorably discharged from the German Navy.
Madame Kitty, head of "Salon Kitty," a bordello, used her women to spy on fellow Nazi officers forÂ
General Heydrich. Please note the videos were added by BRH NOT the author and used purely to illustrate films based upon history and covered in this text. Be advised, R-Rated Trailer... Thankfully, the second trailer for a later movie is more G Rated, so somewhere along the way, people began to realize that trailers needed to be G rated because everybody could potentially see them... I must say, though, that the first trailer portrayed the story line much more effectively...Let me know what you think since I'm a fan of trailers almost as much as reading the book or seeing the movie!
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Kerry Thornley, a fellow Marine of Lee Harvey Oswald, said Oswald made such an impression on him that he wrote the novel, The Idle Warriors, months before Oswald's involvement in the assassination was known.
And so it continues...
Peculiar Liaisons is a significant research effort. Are today's actions molded from history? Perhaps, more specifically, are individuals, who may be viewed as heroes or enemies, depending upon your perspective or background, actually who influences us? John Craig has pulled together facts. Interesting facts. Horrible facts. His book can stand alone from which to learn. But, his references and selected bibliography provide a solid basis for further study. In the midst of the "War on Terror," Peculiar Liaisons should be on your bookshelf.
John S. Craig was born and lives in Colorado. He has published and researched in the fields of history, communication, technology, crime, and travel. He is an instructor at the University of Colorado where he has taught writing and communication for twenty years. He is the author ofÂ Peculiar Liaisons in War, Espionage, and Terrorism in the Twentieth CenturyÂ (Algora) andÂ Heroes Rogues, and Spies. A collection of short stories,Â Blanket of Crickets and Other Stories, will be published in early 2013.