Author: Annie Jacobsen
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
Another thorough job of historical reporting from Jacobsen. She has obviously closely studied de-classified documents and other sources to paint as complete a picture as possible of the United States' program to recruit Nazi scientists from Europe to work in the United States.
On a certain level, I knew we had brought over scientists, but having it all cataloged and laid out underscores what these men did in WWII. While some were not as active in the most blatantly evil portions of the Nazi regime, none had clean hands. Jacobsen's book forces the reader to confront, with more nuance and detail than ever before, what some of the Operation Paperclip scientists did as Nazis. In order to bring them to America, so very much had to be hidden, obscured, or ignored.
It makes one consider whether some actions should be deemed unforgivable, and how much genius is worth in an age of science and technology. One understands that many thought that the Cold War was an existential threat that was greater than the defeated threat of Nazi Germany. Any qualms seemed to have been less important than the driving need for technological supremacy. But it is hard to look back at the 20th century and any scientific leaps without finding almost every avenue of study tainted by Operation Paperclip. A case in point, and one of the lasting impacts the book had for me, it has stained the space program. For all the pride in having been first (and only) to land on the moon, doing it on the back of V2 rockets that had in turn been first developed and built on the backs of slave labor diminishes the achievement and irrevocably blemishes it.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...