Donovan's Devils

Donovan's Devils: OSS Commandos Behind Enemy Lines—Europe, World War II

  • Hardcover: 408 pages. Also available as e-book and audio book.
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (February 9, 2016)

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The OSS—Office of Strategic Services—created under the command of William Donovan, has been celebrated for its cloak-and-dagger operations during World War II and as the precursor of the CIA. As the "Oh So Social," it has also been portrayed as a club for the well-connected before, during, and after the war. Donovan's Devils tells the story of a different OSS, that of ordinary soldiers, recruited from among first- and second-generation immigrants, who volunteered for dangerous duty behind enemy lines and risked their lives in Italy, France, the Balkans, and elsewhere in Europe. Organized into Operational Groups, they infiltrated into enemy territory by air or sea and operated for days, weeks, or months hundreds of miles from the closest Allied troops. They performed sabotage, organized native resistance, and rescued downed airmen, nurses, and prisoners of war. Their enemy showed them no mercy, and sometimes their closest friends betrayed them. They were the precursors to today's Special Forces operators.

Based on declassified OSS records, personal collections, and oral histories of participants from both sides of the conflict, Donovan's Devils provides the most comprehensive account to date of the Operational Group activities, including a detailed narrative of the ill-fated Ginny mission, which resulted in the one of the OSS's gravest losses of the war.

Praise for Donovan's Devils

“Finally, thanks to Albert Lulushi, the Operational Groups of the OSS get their due. Along with the Jedburghs, the OGs were the forerunners of today's Special Forces. Lulushi's thoroughly researched and excitingly written narrative gives them their proper place in the history of the OSS.” —David Robarge, Chief Historian, Central Intelligence Agency

“Lulushi has produced a must-read book for any student of the OSS and for the general public at large. It is full of fascinating details about the little-known trials and tribulations of World War II OSS operations. It's definitely worth adding to anyone's intelligence library.”—Jack Devine, former deputy director for operations, CIA, and current president, the Arkin Group

“This book is an important contribution to our knowledge of the OSS—General Donovan's 'unusual experiment'—and mandatory reading for anyone interested in learning about one of the most fascinating and little-known aspects of the war.”—Charles Pinck, president, OSS Society

“Thorough research into the American military's special arm for guerrilla warfare, which helped undermine the Axis effort during World War II. . . . A proficient, well-wrought work that emphasizes the actual fighting man, their deeds, and their fates. Lulushi ably delineates these specific campaigns, from Corsica to Vercors, France, to the Balkans, and focuses on the appalling treatment of POWs by the Germans .”—Kirkus Reviews (Read the full review)

“Lulushi's engaging read will be of particular interest to those interested in the American immigrant experience and the history of special operations.”—Publishers Weekly (Read the full review)

“An outstanding treatment of wartime heroism, determination, and risk-taking as the newly created OSS and its resistance partners found and played their role in fighting a brutal and clever enemy. The detail contained in each operation of the OGs covered in Donovan's Devils almost bring the reader into the operations themselves.”—David Cohen, former deputy director for operations, CIA, and deputy commissioner for intelligence, NYPD

“Donovan's Devils left me spellbound by the tale or bravery contained in its pages. Every reader will have his favorites; mine were the fates of the Ginny Men and General Anton Dostler and the campaign in the Vergers. Lulushi has given us background essential to our understanding of today's Special Operations Forces.”—Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, former ambassador, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs