The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb

The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb From The Award Winning And Best Selling Author Of Hunting Eichmann And The Perfect Mile An Epic Adventure And Spy Story About What Many Consider The Greatest Act Of Sabotage Of World War II, Based On A Trove Of Exciting New ResearchIt S And The Nazis Are Racing To Build An Atomic Bomb They Have The Physicists They Have The Will What They Don T Have Is Enough Heavy Water, An Essential Ingredient For Their Nuclear Designs For Two Years, The Nazis Have Occupied Norway, And With It The Vemork Hydroelectric Plant, A Massive Industrial Complex Nestled On A Precipice Of A Gorge Vemork Is The World S Sole Supplier Of Heavy Water, And Under The Threat Of Death, Its Engineers Pushed Production Into Overtime For The Allies, Vemork Must Be Destroyed But How Would They Reach The Castle Fortress High In A Mountainous Valley The Answer Became The Most Dramatic Commando Raid Of The War The British Special Operations Executive Together A Brilliant Scientist And Eleven Refugee Norwegian Commandos, Who, With Little Than Parachutes, Skis, And Tommy Guns, Would Destroy Hitler S Nuclear Ambitions And Help End The Reign Of The Third Reich Based On Exhaustive Research And Never Before Seen Diaries And Letters Of The Saboteurs, The Winter Fortress Is A Compulsively Readable Narrative About A Group Of Young Men Who Endured Soul Crushing Setbacks And Gestapo Hunts And Survived In One Of The Coldest, Most Inhospitable Places On Earth To Save The World From Destruction

Neal Bascomb is a national award winning and New York Times bestselling author of a number of books, all non fiction narratives, all focused on inspiring stories of adventure or achievement His work has been translated into over 18 languages, featured in several documentaries, and optioned for major film and television projects.Born in Colorado and raised in St Louis, he is the product of public

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  • Hardcover
  • 400 pages
  • The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb
  • Neal Bascomb
  • English
  • 08 June 2017
  • 9780544368057

10 thoughts on “The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb

  1. says:

    You could probably spend an entire reading lifetime working through World War II books and not cover every aspect of it the same could be said of books featuring talking frogs, but that s neither here nor there I m not a particularly avid WWII buff by and large, I prefer my history pre 1800, just because I dig the scent of unwashed people dressed in woolen garments in the midst of summer heat , but will delve into an interesting tale every once in a while, and The Winter Fortress certainly qualifies in that regard In the fog of war, it s impossible to tell which individual efforts add up to a collective victory, and one could argue that the Herculean efforts of a dedicated band of Norwegian resistance fighters and British sappers to short circuit German efforts to build an atomic bomb by sabotaging the heavy water plant at Vemork had zero impact on the outcome of the war Side note I always thought heavy water was a really stupid plot device in one of my favorite G.I Joe miniseries turns out it s a thing, and an important one vis vis the construction of nuclear bombs If you did make that argument, however, you would be doing so with the benefit of hindsight, still may not be correct, and would, in so doing, egregiously discount the fanatically self sacrificing efforts of the heroes of this tale, a group of men who in some cases gave their lives to help not just their fellow Norwegians, but the world at large and those who didn t give their lives suffered untold physical anguish and interminable years away from their family and friends Add to that the fact that the Norwegians primarily responsible for planning and executing first a sabotage raid on the plant itself and then on a ferry carrying the heavy water when the Germans elected not to rebuild the plant after an American bombing run considered to the same degree the potential loss of innocent lives from their operations the best plan for success and it s hard to imagine a nobler group of humans acting in the face of overwhelming odds, men who, without violence being imposed upon them by a totalitarian dictator and his fascist regime, would have happily led quiet and peaceful lives If this seems an uncharacteristically sober review for the guy who may or may not be responsible for inflicting the atrocity that is Water for Alien Were Dinos on the world, it s simply because the people profiled in this book deserve not to have reviewers making jokes comparing the substance they sought so desperately to destroy to a crucial element of Cobra s teleportation device Did I do that already Damn Sorry, Norwegian heroes my bad If you re looking for a rip roaring yarn about a piece of history you may never had heard anything about, this is well worth a read Two warnings, however 1 there is some fairly explicit descriptions of just how hungry these men were, at least in terms of their willingness to consume every conceivably edible part of a reindeer eyelid fat soup, anyone and 2 there are a lot and I mean a LOT of Norwegian names in here, and as someone who struggles enough as is visually telling one white person from another we really all do look alike , you may, as I did occasionally, get lost trying to figure out who s who.

  2. says:

    Norsk Hydro hydraulic power plant at Vemork, NorwayScience, Spies and Sabotage in a Real Life ThrillerSometimes real life offers up stories that trump the finest thrillers, and the story of the struggle between the Allies and the Reich over an essential ingredient for the manufacture of atomic bombs heavy water is just such a tale.At the end of the 1930 s, when Hitler had already annexed Austria and swallowed up Czechoslovakia, the fearsome power leashed within the isotope U 235 had become clear to a double handful of physicists around the world and a trigger slow moving neutrons had been found for unleashing that power On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and just a few weeks later had set up its atomic bomb program headed by Kurt Diebner, a physicist of theretofore unimpressive accomplishments, but seconded by extremely capable men such as Werner Heisenberg and, reluctantly, Otto Hahn Very quickly they determined that the best means to slow the neutrons released during atomic fission to the velocity required to assure that the fission process continued was to surround the uranium with heavy water, water in which the hydrogen had been replaced by a heavier isotope of hydrogen deuterium The only industrial source of that seemingly essential ingredient of an A bomb was a plant in the wilds of Telemark, Norway, perched precariously on a mountain slope at Vemork.There most of the power produced by the largest hydroelectric plant in the world at that time was expended to distill heavy water from ordinary water in yet another plant further down the slope Norsk Hydro heavy water electrolysis production plant at Vemork, NorwayBoth sides wanted that heavy water for themselves or, failing that, wanted to deny it to the enemy The stage was set for a critical struggle carried out primarily within the shadows.In The Winter Fortress 2016 , Neal Bascomb grippingly and rather thoroughly relates the arc of that struggle, from the initial smuggling of all the stores of heavy water then available from Vemork to Paris by French secret service operatives with the cooperation of the Norwegians under the eyes of the German Abwehr in March of 1940 , through the German invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, and their demand for an enormous increase of production at Vemork the early activities of the British secret service and the Norwegian underground resistance to track the activities at Vemork and to plan a strike while the Gestapo was arresting, torturing and executing their colleagues to the first attempted attack that resulted in the death of all the British involved due to misadventure caused by foul weather, capture, torture and execution The second attempt was up to a small band of Norwegian commandos, four already in place and barely surviving in the sub Arctic winter while the Germans sought for them and desperately rolled up the local resistance after the first, failed effort, and six others in England trying again and again to parachute by full moon into marshes close to Vemork These ten men overcame incredible obstacles related with relish and great detail by Bascomb to successfully destroy the heavy water distilling portion of the plant and to escape the Germans But by the summer of 1943 the plant was repaired and ready to produce again An air strike on Vemork had been considered over a year ago and rejected since it was not clear that the bombs would penetrate the eight story building into the basement where the heavy water was produced and because it was very clear that such a strike would result in the destruction of many civilians But over the Norwegians objections the US Air Force mounted an air raid The result was just as anticipated earlier Nonetheless, the Norwegian plant owners refused to continue the production, and, curiously enough the previous plant director wanted to stop production after the first attack as answer the Germans sent him to a concentration camp , the occupiers agreed Diebner wanted the production set up deep within the Reich The distilling appliances and heavy water were to be transported from Vemork at once But the underground hastened into action and sank the railway ferry carrying the heavy water.The Germans were out of time it was too late to set up a sufficiently productive heavy water plant from scratch, and the Allied air forces bombed the sites where the large scale experiments were being carried out, delaying progress even further Germany surrendered before the fruits of the Manhattan Project tore asunder the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 4 Upon which, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany the official beginning of World War II Both sides soon found out that the use of plutonium would sidestep the nasty problem of separating the rare U 235 from U 238 and that heavy water was very useful for the production of plutonium This included a bait and switch at the Oslo airport, where the Abwehr were tricked into believing that the heavy water was on one plane to Amsterdam but was actually on another to Perth Even though at that time both Norway and the Netherlands were neutral states, the Luftwaffe forced the Amsterdam plane to land in Germany, where they found crumbled granite instead of the hotly desired heavy water in the plane s luggage hold The 185 kg of heavy water was subsequently secreted from Joliot Curie s institute and temporarily hidden in Windsor Castle when France was invaded 4 Side note The seemingly unimpressive Diebner had stumbled upon the principle of fusion bombs too late to do anything about it.NNNNNNNNNNNNNNHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

  3. says:

    Rating 4 of fiveI voted for this book in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards I won the book in a Literary Hub Daily Giveaway, for which I thank them.The beginning, for once, is the fifth star s vanishment The physics lesson went on too long Yes, I agree that it was needed This being a popular history book, however, a lesson of half the length and a quarter the depth would ve been appropriate, not to mention palatable.But the tale itself is exciting and engrossing and, if over detailed at times, sets a spanking pace We owe a lot to the Norwegian resistance movement Does anyone still know, or use, the noun quisling, I wonder It s Norway s other huge contribution to world culture Oh yeah, some Brits were involved as well In minor roles.Heh.

  4. says:

    An absolutely engrossing bookwell written and researched, it tells the story of the brave Norwegian underground and their efforts to sabotage the production of heavy water being used by the Nazi occupiers to develop a nuclear bomb It is unfortunate that this extremely important operation does not get much attention in the overall history of WWII, since the war may have turned out very differently if Germany won the nuclear arms race.The initial chapters deal with how nuclear fission is attained and explains the use of heavy water It is a little slow but necessary in understanding a process of which few readers are familiar and why it was so important to destroy the manufacture of heavy water coming out of Norway.Along with King Haakon and his government, many Norwegians fled to Britain when the Nazi occupation of their country began and formed an army to infiltrate their country One of their major tasks was to destroy the hydroelectric plant at Vemork although only the top leaders were aware of why it was so important Thus began one of the most heroic adventures of WWII and the bravery of these Norwegian freedom fighters is almost beyond understanding Against all odds, they took on the task of the destruction of a huge and heavily guarded industrial complex It is, in a word, amazing and so is the book I highly recommend it.

  5. says:

    After rather a slow start, once the action gets started this is edge of your seat stuff It seems to lose focus from time to time after the first successful mission, but still has enough narrow escapes to hold interest It would have been fascinating to have had a complete juxtaposition of the Manhattan Project with the Nazi efforts.

  6. says:

    JUST GET DOWN TO IT, DARN IT Now, I understand the trend of modern historians to make the story human It is actually a real need, after decades of dry historiography It makes reading easier and, if successful, gives insights that may not be of primary importance but nonetheless offer valuable glimpses of the world and persons described in the particular story.But this seriously, is the childhood life of a character whose name you ll forget right after the chapter have any interest The book drags on soooo slowly with inane details it gets downright boring Not to mention the so la mode practice of writing as if the author was right there with, say, the parachutists in the glider plane and can recite all the details, even those in the minds of the characters It gets silly real fast.It s a shame that such an interesting story would need so much padding and page filling to become a book My suggestion Start reading from the middle of it, you ll be much better off.

  7. says:

    An interesting read on an act of sabotage during World War II when Norwegian commandos infiltrated and destroyed the atomic plant the Germans set up at Vemork The Germans were planning to produce an atomic bomb But through sacrifice, Gestapo manhunts, and torture when some were captured, They manage to destroy the atomic plant and dramatically change the course of the war Part spy thriller and part sabotage thriller this book will not disappoint.

  8. says:

    3.5 starsWhile I liked Hunting Eichmann How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World s Most Notorious Nazi better, this was another great WWII thriller, focusing on another part of the war that isn t taught today I had never heard of the heavy water plant in Norway before, ever, but now I know that the sabotage missions against it were absolutely crucial to preventing Hitler from getting his atomic bombs You d think this would rate a mention in history books, but apparently does not I m assuming because the heroes aren t British or American oooooh no she did n t The start to the book is a little slow, as the author goes through meticulous detail the reason why the heavy water plant was important, the stories of all of those Norwegians who either escaped to Britain to fight, or stayed behind in hiding, and the extreme training and hardship they went through for their missions The first part of the book has a very interesting, basic level explanation of heavy water, where it comes from, and why and how it s used in bomb making It was physics at a level that any casual reader could understand, but it gave me enough knowledge to really get why the attacks on the plant were necessary He could have just said heavy water is used in making bombs and so where it s made had to be destroyed, but instead, the author told me why everything was happening, instead of just that it was happening That shows a lot of respect for the reader, and I appreciate it Although the book is several hundred pages and can appear quite daunting, the last section is all notes and sources, so the actual bulk of the story goes pretty quickly once you get into it It s a spy thriller that has the advantage of being 1 intelligent, and 2 actually true When you get tired of your James Bond style pulp fiction, pick this up instead for some real life spies and saboteurs.

  9. says:

    Bascomb did it again I cried The book starts slowly with laborious explanation of physics level knowledge on the atomic fission Then things get fun This book reminds me of the great sacrifice made 75 years ago and inspires me to be great Wonderful read for those who enjoy the unsung heroes

  10. says:

    The book presents a background, the development of the nuclear race in World War II, Nazi Germany, England, and the United States at the same time The main story is the race for heavy water produced in Norway and efforts to prevent it of the Nazis This is a heroic epic of fighters of various kinds It is a well written story The writer manages to bring the harsh conditions of survival in the Scandinavian winter with improvisation that stems from a lack of supplies and the fear of being discovered However, somehow the book could not make me keep my eyes fixed to the pages and occasionally found myself thinking about extra things as I read.

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