In 1944 German V-1 and V-2 rockets were raining death and destruction upon London and other English cities. Allied intelligence received information indicating that the Nazis were developing a more powerful rocket, capable of destroying a city block and even possibly reaching New York City. This news inspired a desperate mission; a secret project that involved flying drone B-17 bombers into hardened German sites near the coast of France to destroy the new menace. Volunteer pilots were to get the drone planes aloft and then parachute out over friendly territory. The drones would then be guided to their targets by operators in ‘mother’ planes using a guidance system that had been developed for smaller rockets.
Though ultimately unsuccessful, and designed for a target that did not in fact exist, this highly secret project set the stage for the kind of guided munitions that featured so significantly in wars of this century. But, the cost was high, including the untimely death of Joe Kennedy, Jr., elder brother of John F. Kennedy.
Aphrodite: Desperate Mission by Jack Olsen is a riveting account of the men and the mission. Based upon previously classified Defense Department documents, it reads like fiction, but is an historical account of a heretofore unknown operation in the late stages of World War II. The author cites documents obtained from military archives, and while the conversations are recreations, they have a ring of authenticity and truth, and paint a grittily realistic picture of the horrors of war.
For fans of books about this era, this is a must-read. It gives another look at historical figures, such as James Rand, a major during the war, who later founded Rand Corporation, and James Doolittle, an acclaimed flyer.
This is a book that is just waiting to be made into a movie
Four stars, only because of the unfortunate number of typos in the e-book edition.