Book Talk: Clandestine heroes of World War II

Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:37am EST
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By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Daredevil saboteurs in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War Two went to extremes to help the Resistance, risking arrest and execution.

These true-life James Bonds worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secretive British organization assisting resistance movements in occupied Europe. Its mission, ordered by Winston Churchill, was to "set Europe ablaze."

The SOE story, and its agents' exploits, are told in "Shadow Knights: The Secret War Against Hitler," part of a Pulp History book series of little-known stories of heroism.

The book is illustrated with both historical material like period photos, maps and propaganda posters, and colorful, often extremely violent art that evokes 1950s pulp book covers.

Author Gary Kamiya spoke to Reuters about the book, Norwegian commandos who thwarted Adolf Hitler's nuclear ambitions and the enduring fascination with World War Two.

Q: What's the idea behind Pulp History?

A: "We wanted to have stories that were punchy and little known. The sweet spot is finding areas of history that are underserved, underreported, whether by academics or by journalists, that lend themselves to highly narrative-driven prose. We managed to come up with stories that were pretty propulsive ... merging the look of graphic novels and the new, literate comic books, but without the full design of a graphic novel, which have illustrations on every page."

Q: What attracted you to these stories?   Continued...

<p>A handout illustration from the book "Shadow Knights: The Secret War Against Hitler" is seen in this image released to Reuters December 15, 2010. REUTERS/Jeffrey Smith/Simon &amp; Schuster/Handout</p>