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A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II (Hardcover)

A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II Cover Image
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The triumphant true story of the young women who helped to devise the winning strategy that defeated Nazi U-boats and delivered a decisive victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.

By 1941, Winston Churchill had come to believe that the outcome of World War II rested on the battle for the Atlantic. A grand strategy game was devised by Captain Gilbert Roberts and a group of ten Wrens (members of the Women's Royal Naval Service) assigned to his team in an attempt to reveal the tactics behind the vicious success of the German U-boats. Played on a linoleum floor divided into painted squares, it required model ships to be moved across a make-believe ocean in a manner reminiscent of the childhood game, Battleship. Through play, the designers developed "Operation Raspberry," a countermaneuver that helped turn the tide of World War II.

Combining vibrant novelistic storytelling with extensive research, interviews, and previously unpublished accounts, Simon Parkin describes for the first time the role that women played in developing the Allied strategy that, in the words of one admiral, "contributed in no small measure to the final defeat of Germany." Rich with unforgettable cinematic detail and larger-than-life characters, A Game of Birds and Wolves is a heart-wrenching tale of ingenuity, dedication, perseverance, and love, bringing to life the imagination and sacrifice required to defeat the Nazis at sea.

About the Author

Simon Parkin is an award-winning British writer and journalist. He is a contributing writer for the New Yorker, game critic for the Observer newspaper, and a regular contributor to the Guardian's Long Read. He is the recipient of two awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, and his work has been featured in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He lives on the south coast of England.

Praise For…

"This stirring history...redresses a
balance: none in this doughty sisterhood has ever been publicly honoured."—Nature

"History writing at its best."—Booklist, starred review

"Like a well-designed
game, A Game of Birds and Wolves is fun, informative and intense."—BookPage

"A vivid glimpse of a little-known World War II
effort...Parkin weaves this history together like a novel, switching back
and forth among various characters and storylines to reveal a fascinating fight
for freedom; both for Britain and the young women who defied contemporary norms
to serve their country."—Library Journal

"With novelistic
flair, Parkin transforms material gathered from research, interviews, and
unpublished accounts into a highly readable book that celebrates the ingenuity
of a British naval "reject" and the accomplishments of the formerly
faceless women never officially rewarded for their contribution to the Allied
defeat of Germany. A lively, sharp WWII history."—Kirkus Reviews

"Simon Parkin's book rips along at full sail
and is full of personality and personalities.
Above all, it brings a barely known aspect
of the sea war out into the light. Which is
a triumph in itself."
Sunday Express (U.K.)

"A magnificent look at a war game that mattered most: how to out fox the Nazi's dreaded U-boats. Told with poetic mastery, Simon Parkin's A Game of Birds and Wolves unveils the story of Operation Raspberry, how eight young women and a retired naval captain found the key to winning the Battle of the Atlantic on a giant board game played on a linoleum floor."—Annie Jacobsen, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Pentagon's Brain

"A hugely enjoyable and
exciting book. It is fascinating to read about this little-known aspect of
the war which made such a massive difference to the outcome. A compelling and important new story, lucidly
and humanely told."—Roland Philipps, author of A Spy Named Orphan: The Enigma of Donald Maclean

"In a riveting,
intricately researched book, Simon Parkin tells the previously unknown story
behind the Allied victory in the Atlantic during World War II. It's an
underdog's tale-not only of British supply fleets trying to outrun German
U-boats, but also of the women game designers who made that victory possible."—Ian Bogost, Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Contributing writer at The Atlantic, and author of Play Anything

"This is the riveting true story of war, amazing
women, and one of the most important games in history. Read it here
before some film producer makes a mess of it."—Tom Mouat MBE, Simulation and Modelling Technology School, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom

"A fascinating story, wonderfully well-told on a little known but hugely
important aspect of naval warfare. The characters of the main players, notably
the Wrens are beautifully and colourfully put across."—Admiral Sir Michael Layard KCB, CBE, former Second Sea Lord

"A stunning book of an unknown part of the largely forgotten Battle of
the Atlantic, which is a must to read."—Niall Kilgour, CB, former Rear Admiral, Submarines and President of the Submariners Association

"Parkin's book is
extensively researched, well written, and tells an engrossing story of a
little-known topic."

"Parkin does a
masterful job of evoking the sweep of this vital piece of naval history in both
broad strokes and the telling detail. Every war buff will want to read this
book. And anyone interested in strategy would be wise to read it as well."
NY Journal of Books
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316492096
ISBN-10: 0316492094
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: January 28th, 2020
Pages: 320
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