Dark Invasion: 1915: Germany’s Secret War Against America

Howard Blum, Author
Howard Blum. HarperCollins, $27.99 (512p) ISBN 978-0-06-230755-2
Reviewed on: 11/18/2013
Release date: 02/01/2014
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Vanity Fair contributing editor Blum tells the story of a sabotage campaign that began in 1914 when the German ambassador to the U.S., Johann von Bernstoff, was instructed to develop an intelligence network to keep America out of WWI and prevent the shipment of supplies and war material to the Allies—both by “any means necessary.” The organization, focused in New York, opened “the Manhattan Front” in 1915 with a series of merchant-ship bombings. Blum’s central figure, police inspector Tom Tunney, an experienced undercover operative, was assigned to break what British intelligence had demonstrated to its U.S. counterparts was a terrorist operation. The Brits had depended on intercepted communications; Tunney and his Bomb Squad depended on police work. “There was no specific law against espionage” in 1915, but as his well-financed opponents escalated their efforts to the point of attempted murder—of no less a figure than J.P. Morgan—and to projects for germ warfare, including anthrax, Tunney formed a picture, found “an angle of attack,” closed in, and made arrests. Blum’s narrative of America’s first exercise in homeland security is a worthwhile page-turner, combining the best features of a police procedural and a spy novel with a firm base in verifiable events. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (Feb.)
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