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Alexander Rose (1) (1971–)

Författare till Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring

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Alexander Rose is an American author and historian. He was born in the United States in 1971, and raised in Australia and Britain. He was educated at Cambridge University, where he was awarded a doctorate for his thesis, Radar Strategy: The Air Dilemma and British Politics, 1932-1937. As a visa mer journalist, Rose's writing has appeared in, among other places, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the CIA journal Studies in Intelligence. He is a member of the United States Commission on Military History, the Society for Military History, and the Royal Historical Society. He has authored several historical works, including Washington's Spies (which is the basis for AMC series Turn) American Rifle and Kings in the North. (Bowker Author Biography) visa färre

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I had watched the series Turn! on television; this is the book that series was based on. Fascinating account of the often unwitting, ordinary people who got swept up in the intrigue and intelligence gathering during the Revolutionary War.
bschweiger | 19 andra recensioner | Feb 4, 2024 |
Another outstanding dive into history that few bring to life with such tenacity, interest and curiosity.
the4otts | Apr 3, 2023 |
Quite fascinating. From the development of the Zeppelin technology to its use in war and its competition with airplanes for mail and passenger service, so much here was completely new to me.

> They had recently found that wind speeds at ground level differ significantly from those at higher altitudes. Records taken for a 101-day period between June and October 1889 at the top of the Eiffel Tower (984 feet) found that the average daily velocity was 15.75 mph, whereas on the ground in the same location, it averaged a mere 4.9 mph. Until this discovery, any number of aeronauts had unwittingly made the error of building their craft to cope with ground-level winds.

> In May 1892, Zeppelin welcomed Kober aboard, saying that “I hope to God that by our joint efforts we will succeed in doing something useful for our German Vaterland.” Kober proved an admirable fit: He was young, mild-mannered, pliable, not so skilled as to question Zeppelin’s decisions with any great authority, and easily overawed by the count’s gale-force personality. Kober willingly, for instance, signed a contract stipulating that, like the slaves entombed in the pyramids with their pharaohs to serve them in the afterlife, he must “dedicate his whole energy to the execution and testing of the airships planned by me [Zeppelin], and…bring this task to its end in case of my death.”

> Asked by one to consent to an interview, the count had, with inimitable aristocratic hauteur, brusquely replied, “I am not a circus rider performing for the public; I am completing a serious task in service of the Vaterland,” and turned his back to him.

> As he had once been by the Russians, Zeppelin this time was saved by the French, who were beginning to develop a type of small dirigible known as a Lebaudy for army reconnaissance. Though these ships had nowhere near the same scale, power, or ambition of Zeppelin’s machines, their sinister implications seemed clear to the paranoid Wilhelm II. They were intended, or so he believed, as an aerial navy that would bomb his fortresses and ships. The kaiser was frightened into keeping Zeppelin solvent—just in case he too needed an aerial navy in the future

> Some local farmers helped anchor the ship fore and aft with cables weighted down at the ends with boulders. As the crew congratulated one another and thanked the Lord for their preservation, “we considered ourselves very clever, not realizing that we were sealing the fate of our airship,” Preiss recalled. An airship that is anchored at both ends is vulnerable to crosswinds—later Zeppelins would be secured at the nose alone to turn with the prevailing wind

> Considering how far and how quickly Zeppelin had advanced in the same period, the fact that the Wrights had, it seemed to the count, wasted nearly three years building a crash-prone toy only confirmed his suspicion that the airplane was not the future; the airship was

> The wonder of Zeppelins was not just their sheer size. It was that owing to their immensity it required only small changes to make them exponentially larger.

> The Wrights, for their part, thought exactly the same about the Zeppelin, with Wilbur writing that the airship “must soon become a thing of the past.” All the money the count was spending on developing them, he predicted, would “be practically wasted” once the airplane came into its own.

> The Wrights may have made a small fortune in 1908 thanks to their successes in America and France, but they were now competing against dozens of rivals as the airplane business exploded. Within three years, in the United States alone, there would be 146 airplane companies and 114 different engines on the market. Monoplanes, biplanes, triplanes—all these ate away at the Wrights’ once-commanding lead amid a host of meritless lawsuits and wasteful patent-infringement accusations. Orville and Wilbur sensed that their time at the top was running out. Following a spectacular series of flights in 1910 to show the world they were still the greatest aviators of them all, they essentially retired. Wilbur would die two years later of typhoid, and Orville, who lived until 1948, ceased flying in 1918.

> Rehabilitation in the eyes of his emperor, the satisfying defeat of Major Gross and other critics, a weakness for believing his own adulatory press, an aging man’s reactionary crustiness, a growing dislike of Colsman’s capitalist vulgarity, and the military’s purchase of LZ-3 and LZ-5—all these contributed to his [Zeppelin's] curdling into a militarist rabidly eager to wade through blood to raise Germany to paramountcy among the Great Powers. In his mind, airships were now suited exclusively for martial purposes and would, he boasted, “assure [Germany] world military domination.” … it would be the culmination of his life’s work if the kaiser permitted him “to lead the best one of my available airships into battle” since “all Germany expects me to make the first flight over London.”

> At a time when a (single) passenger on an airplane had to don goggles and overalls to prevent motor oil from the engine from spattering all over him or occasionally her, the Deutschland provided a lounge equipped with wicker chairs set next to large, sliding windows that allowed optimal viewing of the countryside passing by below. The walls and ceiling were veneered in dark mahogany, with the pillars and roof beams of the same material but richly inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Every sharp corner was swaddled in soft leather, and the floor was thickly carpeted to absorb the engine noise. A tiny galley provided sandwiches and drinks. All the cutlery, plates, and cups were made of aluminum to reduce weight. Even the lavatory—itself a revelation—had aluminum fittings

> Unfortunately, Kahlenberg, through lack of experience, had omitted to check the weather reports and now a fierce storm was unexpectedly approaching. When it hit, the three-hour pleasure jaunt turned into a nine-hour nightmare ride as Deutschland fought the unrelenting, turbulent wind. At one point, the airship was actually traveling backward.

> On September 2, 1916, Strasser sent sixteen airships—the largest raid of the war—to deliver a grand knockout blow, only to be frustrated by Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson’s shooting one down in an incendiary-armed B.E.2c fighter. The gigantic fireball that erupted so discouraged the other commanders that they turned tail and left. A single man in a single airplane had defeated an airship armada. Between that night and the end of 1916, seven more airships were shot down by airplanes.

> By 1917, Zeppelins could operate between 16,000 and 18,000 feet, but the newest British fighter, the Sopwith Camel, could reach 17,300 feet. In response, Dürr and his colleagues designed new classes of “height-climbers” that raised the ceiling by stripping Zeppelins of every ounce of extra weight. Hull girders were shaved to their thinnest feasible width, the control car was made even smaller, the crew’s quarters were eliminated, and most of the machine guns were removed—saving about seven thousand pounds and allowing a maximum height of 20,700 feet.

> The crews, from 12,000 feet and up for prolonged periods, relied on oxygen masks to avoid hypoxia, or altitude sickness. Impurities in the gas caused intense nausea and vertigo, but anyone who removed the mask, as many did, would feel at first a throbbing in the teeth and blurred vision, followed by an expansion of abdominal gases—the symphony of farting aboard a Zeppelin was something to behold—before exhibiting symptoms similar to those of carbon monoxide poisoning or a severe hangover. Whereas fighter pilots stayed up so high only for short periods, continued exposure by airship crews could fatally result in fluid in the lungs and brain swelling (leading to bladder and bowel dysfunction, loss of coordination, paralysis, and confusion).

> Worse, in the spring of 1918, the British devised a rudimentary aircraft carrier that allowed their long-range planes to hit Zeppelin bases. In July of that year, the Tondern sheds were bombed by seven sea-launched Sopwith Camels.

> Of the ninety-one Zeppelins built and operated during the war there were just sixteen left (including an unfinished experimental model, some training ships, and a few obsolete ones) at the Armistice in November 1918. The list of the fates that the others experienced makes for depressing reading: “shot down in flames,” “forced down,” “dismantled,” “destroyed in explosion,” “wrecked in landing,” “burned accidentally,” “bombed in shed,” “rammed a mountain,” “crashed,” “lost in North Sea,” and so forth

> when in May 1915 the submarine U-20 sank the Lusitania, its captain, Walther Schwieger, inflicted more than twice as many fatalities with a single torpedo as did three years of Zeppelin raiding (1,198 to 557). Indeed, deaths among the Zeppelin crews came close to equaling the number of their victims.

> A perennial problem of airship flying was that as the engines burned relatively heavy fuel during a trip, Zeppelins became lighter and so naturally tended to lift. In practice, the captain would valve out hydrogen to bring his ship back down into static equilibrium. … Blau gas resembled propane in that it could be transported as a liquid but released in a gaseous state only slightly heavier than air. In the latter form, it could replace liquid gasoline as a fuel. So as it was consumed the airship would experience almost no lift because the overall weight remained virtually the same

> Thanks to his timing, Eckener avoided the midwestern storms in the fall, but between those and the southwestern desert in the summer, he was realizing that much of the continental United States was close to being a no-go area for Zeppelins
… (mer)
breic | 3 andra recensioner | Mar 14, 2022 |
I do not know why it took me so long to read this book — I’ve had it for at least two years, and I’ve watched (and loved) all four seasons of the show that is based upon this book (“Turn: Washington’s Spies”).
This was a quick 280 page read for me, and it really helped to deepen my understanding of the Culper Spy Ring. I definitely recommend it as a read for anyone interested in US history, espionage, or any other related topics; in actuality, I just highly recommend this book as a read for everyone. This book (along with the show, of course) will forever hold a special place in my heart.… (mer)
historybookreads | 19 andra recensioner | Jul 26, 2021 |

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