A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women


A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II [BOOKS] ✯ A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II Author Simon Parkin – Thomashillier.co.uk As Heard on theNew Yorker Radio Hour The triumphant and engaging history The New Yorker of the young women who devised a winning strategy that defeated Nazi U boats and delivered a decisive victory in As Heard on theNew Yorker Radio Hour of Birds ePUB ´ The triumphant and engaging history The New Yorker of the young women who devised a winning strategy that defeated Nazi U boats and delivered a decisive A Game Kindle - victory in the Battle of the AtlanticBy , Winston Churchill had come to believe that the outcome of World War II rested on the battle for the Atlantic A grand strategy game was devised Game of Birds eBook ↠ by Captain Gilbert Roberts and a group of ten Wrens members of the Women s Royal Naval Service assigned to his team in an attempt to reveal the tactics behind the vicious success of the German U boats Played on a linoleum floor divided into painted squares, it required model ships to be moved across a make believe ocean in a manner reminiscent of the childhood game, Battleship Through play, the designers developed Operation Raspberry, a counter maneuver that helped turn the tide of World War IICombining vibrant novelistic storytelling with extensive research, interviews, and previously unpublished accounts, Simon Parkin describes for the first time the role that women played in developing the Allied strategy that, in the words of one admiral, contributed in no small measure to the final defeat of Germany Rich with unforgettable cinematic detail and larger than life characters, A Game of Birds and Wolves is a heart wrenching tale of ingenuity, dedication, perseverance, and love, bringing to life the imagination and sacrifice required to defeat the Nazis at sea.

    A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women the German U boats Played on a linoleum floor divided into painted squares, it required model ships to be moved across a make believe ocean in a manner reminiscent of the childhood game, Battleship Through play, the designers developed Operation Raspberry, a counter maneuver that helped turn the tide of World War IICombining vibrant novelistic storytelling with extensive research, interviews, and previously unpublished accounts, Simon Parkin describes for the first time the role that women played in developing the Allied strategy that, in the words of one admiral, contributed in no small measure to the final defeat of Germany Rich with unforgettable cinematic detail and larger than life characters, A Game of Birds and Wolves is a heart wrenching tale of ingenuity, dedication, perseverance, and love, bringing to life the imagination and sacrifice required to defeat the Nazis at sea."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 320 pages
  • A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II
  • Simon Parkin
  • 13 July 2017
  • 0316492094

About the Author: Simon Parkin

Simon Parkin is an award winning writer of Birds ePUB ´ and journalist from England A sought after video game pundit, Parkin has been a guest on BBC Radio , BBC Radio Live and his criticism A Game Kindle - and journalism has featured in numerous high profile publications, including the New Yorker, Guardian and New Statesman.



10 thoughts on “A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II

  1. Roberta Roberta says:

    These two books are really difficult for me to review The first book, A Game of Birds and Wolves reads like a thriller and I would give it a very solid four stars The British, out maneuvered and out gunned, are this close to losing WWII because Germany is throwing up a barricade of u boats, cutting off supplies, sinking supply ships and killing huge numbers of sailors and civilian passengers The Germans are surely and steadily winning the Battle of the Atlantic They have Supreme Commander of These two books are really difficult for me to review The first book, A Game of Birds and Wolves reads like a thriller and I would give it a very solid four stars The British, out maneuvered and out gunned, are this close to losing WWII because Germany is throwing up a barricade of u boats, cutting off supplies, sinking supply ships and killing huge numbers of sailors and civilian passengers The Germans are surely and steadily winning the Battle of the Atlantic They have Supreme Commander of the Navy Admiral Karl Doenitz running the show and they have deadly, skilled submarine captains like Otto Kretschmer and Wolfgang L th playing for their team The German u boat captains had already made a game out of it awarding points for every ton of British ship they send to the bottom Sink 100,000 tons and Admiral Doenitz pins a medal on your chest Captain Schnee sinks the SS Aguila, killing 70 young women and gets 9,000 points Captain Bleichrodt sinks the SS City of Benares, killing over 250 people, including 77 small children, and is awarded 11,000 points Bleichrodt trades in his points for the Iron Cross Captain Hardegen sinks the oil tanker Norness, resulting in the deaths of two crew members and a puppy and giving him a whopping 12,000 points Inexplicably, Britain recruits Gilbert Roberts to head up a group to figure out how to push the Germans back Still dangerously underweight, Roberts had previously been mustered out of the service because he is suffering from tuberculosis On top of that, the team he will be leading consists almost entirely of young WRENS Women s Royal Naval Service whose training, such as it was, consisted mostly of typing and other skills that were considered appropriate for females of the day Even though we know how it turned out, view spoiler The Germans lost the Battle of the Atlantic hide spoiler it s still pretty exciting to see how it was done Lots of this was top secret until pretty recently The second book, The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II is pretty much a two star book, or an episode of Ripping Yarns There are a couple of pages scattered here and there about two outstanding WRENS, Jean Laidlaw and Janet Okell, and a handful of other WRENS flit through various chapters like ghosts There is some chit chat about their designer uniforms and engagements to fellow naval personnel There is a lot of lip service given to their importance to the success of the mission but not much information that actually backs it up Really, the only thing that s new is the extent to which women are allowed to participate at all Are there really two books No, it just seems like it Now the publisher is probably sorry that I was sent a free copy Well, I gave 1 2 of the book a 4 star review _ _ My peeve An interminable anecdote in Chapter 13 about John Lamb partying in NYC is very entertaining but had only the most tenuous connection to the game of birds and wolves The footnote there that the editor of Vogue magazine, who was at the party, died four months later is only half as interesting and twice as irrelevant

  2. Book2Dragon Book2Dragon says:

    I really, really liked this book I was lucky to win it, and this review has nothing to do with that The story of the U Boats in WWII is not one I had delved into much, although the German movie Das Boot was all about submarines But the story of the women WRENs of England, many quite young, who assisted with the games that turned the Battle of the Atlantic around is one I definitely did not know about Apparently not many people did, and I am grateful to the author for his studious researc I really, really liked this book I was lucky to win it, and this review has nothing to do with that The story of the U Boats in WWII is not one I had delved into much, although the German movie Das Boot was all about submarines But the story of the women WRENs of England, many quite young, who assisted with the games that turned the Battle of the Atlantic around is one I definitely did not know about Apparently not many people did, and I am grateful to the author for his studious research and excellent presentation of this part of history He presents the facts in a way that kept me interested, both of the men and women who worked so hard to bring success to this goal, and he also presents the enemy without indiscriminately painting them all as monsters He stops occasionally to lament that wars happen at all, and for those killed, he presents deaths so that they are personal, not just numbers although the numbers are sobering It also brings to light just how much the British suffered during the war, and how close the allies came to losing.I d highly recommend this book to everyone current and former sailors, history professors and buffs, anyone studying or interested in World War II, young people who don t really remember the war or know much about it, and anyone who just wants to increase their knowledge of how the world works History is there for us to learn

  3. Caroline Caroline says:

    Disappointing Charitably, due partly to the sparsity of primary source material, since the women were barred from talking about their activity for fifty years and male military leaders and war historians ignored it.As a result, this is mistitled It s mostly about the actual Atlantic convoy battles of WWII and their strategists And about Gilbert Roberts, who devised and ran the war games school The relatively small part about the women is padded out with their backstories and romantic lives Disappointing Charitably, due partly to the sparsity of primary source material, since the women were barred from talking about their activity for fifty years and male military leaders and war historians ignored it.As a result, this is mistitled It s mostly about the actual Atlantic convoy battles of WWII and their strategists And about Gilbert Roberts, who devised and ran the war games school The relatively small part about the women is padded out with their backstories and romantic lives There just isn t enough documentation about how large a role they played to support the hype At least not here

  4. Historyguy Historyguy says:

    Told in vivid, thrilling detail, A Game of Birds and Wolves shines a light into one of the forgotten tactical units of the Second World War and the core role the men and women who worked there played in driving the U boats from the Atlantic The book often reads like a thriller, with well rounded, memorable characters on both sides of the conflict, and high stakes, but is clearly rooted in painstaking archival research and interview A gripping, tight focus expose, not only of the role of wargam Told in vivid, thrilling detail, A Game of Birds and Wolves shines a light into one of the forgotten tactical units of the Second World War and the core role the men and women who worked there played in driving the U boats from the Atlantic The book often reads like a thriller, with well rounded, memorable characters on both sides of the conflict, and high stakes, but is clearly rooted in painstaking archival research and interview A gripping, tight focus expose, not only of the role of wargames in the battle of the Atlantic, but also of their usefulness to both sides in the wider war

  5. Mal Warwick Mal Warwick says:

    Books about women in World War II are popular these days, and the latest one I ve come across A Game of Birds and Wolves by Simon Parkin is a good one, up to a point Parkin tells the story of several dozen mostly very young women who participated in a little recognized but vital aspect of the Allied victory They were recruits to an auxiliary of the British Navy known as the Wrens Women s Royal Navy Service However, in reality, A Game of Birds and Wolves is,properly, about the man Books about women in World War II are popular these days, and the latest one I ve come across A Game of Birds and Wolves by Simon Parkin is a good one, up to a point Parkin tells the story of several dozen mostly very young women who participated in a little recognized but vital aspect of the Allied victory They were recruits to an auxiliary of the British Navy known as the Wrens Women s Royal Navy Service However, in reality, A Game of Birds and Wolves is,properly, about the man who founded and commanded the top secret unit in which they served Unfortunately, partly because the women were never publicly recognized or rewarded for their service and were forced to keep their work secret for fifty years following the war, and partly because apparently the publisher felt the need to mislead readers to boost sales, the subtitle is The Ingenious Young Women Whose Board Game Helped Win World War II Still, the book really does tell the tale of how wargames helped win World War II, and Parkin tells it well.World War II hung in the balance in the Battle of the AtlanticMost accounts of the war in Europe dwell on the conflict on land, focusing on such pivotal events as the Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, the Normandy Invasion, and the Battle of the Bulge as well as the secret war carried on by intelligence agents and partisans The Battle of the Atlantic is all too often lost in this narrative Yet in the early years, when Great Britain was struggling to survive in the face of a threatened Nazi invasion, the British came perilously close to losing World War II because Germany s U boats were sinking prodigious numbers of merchant ships carrying essential food and fuel to the island 2,603 merchant ships and 175 of their escorts.At the time, however, both the Germans and the British tallied losses not in numbers of ships sunk but in the tonnage of food and supplies lost, a bloodless conception reminiscent of the body count of the Vietnam War The threat was so great that for years the British government kept secret how enormous the losses had been Even some members of Churchill s cabinet were kept in the dark yet the people of the UK came perilously close to starvation And A Game of Birds and Wolves is the story of how the British Royal Navy eventually prevented that by winning the Battle of the Atlantic.A strategy born out of desperation won the Battle of the AtlanticParkin tells the tale of a top secret unit established deep underground in Liverpool There, a small staff developed wargames to help develop new antisubmarine tactics, eventually training thousands of British naval officers who commanded escort vessels protecting the convoys of merchant ships who traversed the Atlantic throughout the war A retired officer turned game designer named Gilbert Roberts masterminded the effort, working with a staff composed largely of young Wrens, some of them barely out of secondary school The Western Approaches Tactical Unit WATU , as it was called, arose out of desperation Winston Churchill personally set WATU in motion, ordering Roberts to Find out what is happening and sink the U boats WATU s wargames helped win World War IIIn fact, the first fruits of WATU s work began to be seen in summer 1942, when escort ships sank four times as many U boats as the previous month, beginning an upward trend that would continue, broadly, for the rest of the year And by March 1943, the inventive tactics WATU had designed allowed the British to win the greatest convoy battle of all time In May of that year, Admiral Karl Doenitz, the supreme commander of the German Navy and the architect of the wolfpack strategy that had proved so deadly, admitted that he had lost the Battle of the Atlantic and recalled his boats to shore.The critical role of the WrensThroughout A Game of Birds and Wolves, Parkin valiantly tries to highlight the experiences of the young women who served with Roberts and later his successor in WATU He dwells on the contributions of several individuals, but there is now apparently little information available Not one of the Wrens involved was to receive public recognition for her contribution, so there is virtually nothing in the official record And, as he notes, captains at sea and the anxious admirals at home were all granted special dispensation to tell their stories soon after the war everyone else involved, including the Wrens, was forbidden from talking or writing about their work for fifty years By which time, of course, many of them had died.However, Parkin makes absolutely clear that the Wrens s contributions were huge As one example, he tells the tale of a nineteen year old Wren recruit who had gained such expertise in playing the games they devised that she beat the most celebrated submarine ace in the Royal Navy five times in a row WATU was Roberts s masterstroke, but the intelligence and resourcefulness the Wrens brought to the unit made its success possible.The long history of wargamesAs Parkin reports, archaeologists have unearthed sets of miniature soldiers that represent Sumerian and Egyptian armies Many of the earliest board games that, like chess and go, are still played today are either military themed, or explore concepts of strategy and tactics Chess is believed to have originated in the early years of the first millennium CE in northern India, while go was first played in China in the fourth century BCE But the first board game specifically designed to explore military strategy and tactics was invented in Prussia in 1780 Ever since then, armies and navies alike around the world have organized wargames to test new tactics and probe for weaknesses in their strategies The British Navy s effort in World War II continued a long tradition.About the authorSimon Parkin has been a contributor to the New Yorker since 2013 Much of his writing is about technology He is also a video game critic his first book was Death by Video Game A Game of Birds and Wolves is his second

  6. Laura Hoffman Brauman Laura Hoffman Brauman says:

    A Game of Birds and Wolves was a fascinating look at a behind the scenes story from WWII The Wrens were a group of women in the British Royal Navy who were part of a group that developed strategies to help the British and American ships outmaneuver the German U Boats If you like WWII history or stories of women defying stereotypes, this is a perfect read for you.

  7. Jessica Senn Jessica Senn says:

    I thought this was a FANTASTIC book, but the title and description were a little misleading I felt that the book focusedon the u boats and convoys than the WRENS The WRENS felt like just a bit role in a book that is supposedly about them I did enjoy the afterward that followed up on some of the girls that were mentioned and the explanation of why there isn t much historical record or personal recollections All in all, a GREAT book that I feel like is being marketed to young women that I thought this was a FANTASTIC book, but the title and description were a little misleading I felt that the book focusedon the u boats and convoys than the WRENS The WRENS felt like just a bit role in a book that is supposedly about them I did enjoy the afterward that followed up on some of the girls that were mentioned and the explanation of why there isn t much historical record or personal recollections All in all, a GREAT book that I feel like is being marketed to young women that would be enjoyed by a FAR broader audience Don t let the title throw you off If you enjoy WWII, Battle of the Atlantic, submarines, or war strategy, this is the book for you

  8. Casey Casey says:

    A great book, providing both a history of the Royal Navy s WRNS Women s Royal Navy Service and a study of the use of tactical wargames in WWII s Battle of Atlantic The title itself only refers to the May 1942 fighting which took place around Convoy ONS 5, considered by many the pivotal turning point in the battle against the U Boats But the book covers a much broader scope, giving both detailed insights into the actions and motivations of the WRNS volunteers as well as the background and mac A great book, providing both a history of the Royal Navy s WRNS Women s Royal Navy Service and a study of the use of tactical wargames in WWII s Battle of Atlantic The title itself only refers to the May 1942 fighting which took place around Convoy ONS 5, considered by many the pivotal turning point in the battle against the U Boats But the book covers a much broader scope, giving both detailed insights into the actions and motivations of the WRNS volunteers as well as the background and machinations surrounding the use of wargames to devise Anti Submarine Warfare tactics Captain Gilbert Roberts was the RN Officer who led the Western Approaches Tactical Unit, or WATU Western Approaches being the RN s primary command element fighting the U Boats Captain Roberts had to fight a command culture which disdained simulation and initially looked askance at the tactics he put forth This was not helped by his being an invalided Officer, denied the chance for active service But, after developing the successful Raspberry tactic and achieving the support of a few critical tactical leaders, Captain Roberts was able to implement across the Fleet additional tactics from his wargame and use his facility as the premier training course for ASW units He was ably assisted in this effort by a group of youthful but very smart female RN personnel in fact, they became so good at the game that they themselves devised most of the new tactics The author does add in a number of accounts from the frontlines, the experience of being torpedoed or depth charged, as well as some accounts of life and operations in the U Boat Force These insertions slightly offset the main thrust of the story, but overall the book is helped by this additional color and variety The book ends in a solid tribute to the many WRNS officers and ratings who played a major role in the allied naval victory in the Atlantic Highly recommended for those wanting to better understand the RN s tactical ASW development in WWII

  9. Alexander Peck Alexander Peck says:

    Disappointing The topic interested me and when I learned about WATU last year, I wanted to read a book about it I think at least one of the above stars I gave just because I like the subject.The book tells both sides of the story well the Nazi and British knowledge and actions are displayed side by side which I found pleasing The end of part two and the beginning of part three are incredibly well written On the other hand, Early on and a little at the end but that sforgivable the bo Disappointing The topic interested me and when I learned about WATU last year, I wanted to read a book about it I think at least one of the above stars I gave just because I like the subject.The book tells both sides of the story well the Nazi and British knowledge and actions are displayed side by side which I found pleasing The end of part two and the beginning of part three are incredibly well written On the other hand, Early on and a little at the end but that sforgivable the book waxes poetically pedantic frequently It will demonstrate and explain a tragic situation and do a good job at it but then just flatly evaluate the situation by stating it was tragic and war is bad The first third of the book does this all the time It made it clunky and hard to read, made otherwise good writing quite juvenile All history books these days seem to have the model where they begin by describing the climax of the action up until the resolution to hook you then they go back to astandard beginning and eventually get you back there This is probably unnecessary in a book with at least one boat explosion every five pages and just offensive when the book attempts to do this trick twice On page 107 the book says Hitler believed women s lives should revolve around three Ks Kinder , K che and Kirche No, he didn t

  10. Keith Silver Keith Silver says:

    Learned about this book thanks to an interview with the author on The New Yorker Radio Hour An important book for those interested in an underreported chapter of WWII history Readers that like Erik Larson s non fiction, such as his recent The Splendid and the Vile , should enjoy this book that illustrates the significance of the Battle of the Atlantic and British attempts to keep food and war supplies flowing across the ocean in large military escorted convoys of merchant ships The devastati Learned about this book thanks to an interview with the author on The New Yorker Radio Hour An important book for those interested in an underreported chapter of WWII history Readers that like Erik Larson s non fiction, such as his recent The Splendid and the Vile , should enjoy this book that illustrates the significance of the Battle of the Atlantic and British attempts to keep food and war supplies flowing across the ocean in large military escorted convoys of merchant ships The devastating carnage caused by Nazi U boat wolf packs was madevivid by Simon Parkin s description of the German s adoption of a naval strategy that made sinking ships as easy as shooting fish in a barrel I can t imagine the fear that crews sailing the Atlantic in the early 1940s must have had knowing how vulnerable they were to a painful death in the rough and cold sea Without including spoilers, let s say that the book does a good job explaining how game strategy worked to turn the tide in the Allies favor And the under appreciated role of the Wrens the Women s Royal Navy Service in developing this game as well as in doing many other admirable jobs that, if done by men, would have been remembered and recognized in a large way after the war The concluding chapters and epilogue did much to pull together the significance of this period in history and how it continues to influence the military and society today

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