12 Seconds of Silence: How a Team of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Spies Took Down a Nazi Superweapon

Jamie Holmes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-1-328-46012-7
Journalist Holmes (Nonsense) delivers a rousing and carefully researched history of American-led efforts to develop technology capable of defeating German air superiority during WWII. Noting that British antiaircraft guns needed more than 20,000 shots to bring down a single plane during the Blitz, Holmes documents the origins of Section T, a “ragtag” team of engineers and scientists led by Johns Hopkins University physicist Merle Tuve, and their efforts to develop the proximity fuse, a device that alerted an artillery shell when to explode. Holmes focuses on the summer of 1944, when Germany launched scores of V-1 drone missiles at London from the coast of occupied France, killing thousands, and Section T raced to get the proximity fuse to frontline antiaircraft guns. By the middle of August, Holmes writes, Allied forces were shooting nearly half of the V-1 rockets out of the sky, and by the end of summer, the rate neared 100%. Holmes maintains a brisk pace, highlighting the human drama behind the story and only occasionally getting mired in complex technical details. This entertaining chronicle rescues a tale of American wartime ingenuity from obscurity. (July)

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated this was the author's first book.

Reviewed on : 03/25/2020
Release date: 06/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-328-45985-5
Book - 978-0-358-31314-4
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-358-50863-2
Compact Disc - 416 pages - 978-0-358-30951-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-0941-4594-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-6622-2288-7
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