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Dark Invasion 1915: Germany's Secret War & the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  608 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
What happens when German spies collaborate to unleash a campaign of terror upon America at the start of World War I?

In the summer of 1914, New York Police Department captain Tom Tunney is preoccupied by Manhattan's raging gang rivalries and has little idea that, halfway around the world, a much more ominous threat to the city is brewing. As Germany teeters on the brink of
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Harper (first published September 10th 2013)
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Mar 24, 2014 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read a non-fiction book, the more interesting facts I learn, the more I like it. This is especially true if the book covers a topic I arrogantly think I'm already familiar with. "Dark Invasion" did an excellent job of covering both of those areas for me.

Similarly, when I read fiction, such as a spy novel, the intrigue, the cleverness of the spies, and the obstacles they face all have to be believable and challenging for me to enjoy it. Once again, "Dark Invasion" did that job brilliantly
Feb 05, 2014 Lynn rated it it was amazing

Today's nonfiction book is Dark Invasion: 1915 Germany's secret war against America by Howard Blum. It is 512 pages long including notes and index. It is published by HarperCollins. The story is told from journals, interviews, and recent conversations with the people involved to the silent author; it is third person close. There is language, talk of sex, and violence in this book. Because of content 16 and up just to be safe. The cover has a newspaper on it with the title and author name overlai
Sep 12, 2014 J.S. rated it liked it
Shelves: wwi, vine
Although President Wilson was determined to remain neutral when the first World War broke out in Europe, the nation's "neutrality" was mostly one-sided. Even if America didn't officially take sides, huge amounts of munitions and weapons were sold to the Allies (Britain enforced a sea blockade, preventing any possibility of trade with Germany). And as German frustration mounted, they began a secret campaign of sabotage against American ships. Inventive cigar-shaped incendiaries and bombs attached ...more
Howard Blum’s book Dark Invasion covers the time from just before World War 1 though the conclusion of World War 1 and focuses on the efforts of Germany to seed disruption and terrorism in the United States. The book also follows a New York Police inspector who acted as a homeland security expert tracking down saboteurs and spy rings before groups like the FBI would be tasked with doing so. A German diplomat set up a ring of saboteurs and spies aimed at spreading anti-British propaganda, ...more
Sep 03, 2014 Roger rated it it was amazing
Have read many times about Germany's attempts to prevent the US from supplying the Britian and France in WW1. This book details the depths of the German efforts lead by the German ambassador to the US! Author Blum tells of the efforts of Captain Tom Tunney's of the New York City Police Department and his small squad of detectives to thwart the German sabatouge efforts and the German plans to wage chemical war on the US population and the animals being supplied to the Allies. The Federal ...more
Marianne Wason
Jun 08, 2016 Marianne Wason rated it did not like it
I so disliked this book that I had to force myself to finish it for two reasons: (1) I wanted the historical content; (2) it was for a nonfiction book club where I knew we'd discuss our opinions about this genre of fictionalized nonfiction, history as spy thriller, etc. Frankly, I understated my first sentence. I hated this book. To be fair to the author and those who like this style of nonfiction, I should say "I hate this genre" and because of that I hated the book. Blum did his research -- ...more
Sep 20, 2015 Darren rated it it was amazing
Okay, I have to start out by saying I am a bit biased in this review; I LOVE history. What I love even more is learning something new about something we think we know. The subject this time around? World War I.
The year is 1915 and America is not in the war. President Wilson is doing everything in his power to keep America out of the war. What he does not know is there are German spies on American soil; spies who are employing saboteurs to damage or destroy American ships that carry supplies to A
Jul 17, 2016 Thom rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Fictionalized account of the efforts by German secret agents to undermine US support for the Allies in World War I. The "first terrorist cell" of the subtitle seems like a stretch - this group was funded by Germany and there were covert terrorists and anarchists long before 1915.

Focuses mostly on three stories - fires on American ships delivering materials to the Allies; a murderer who planted a bomb in the capitol building and attacked JP Morgan Jr.; and a group trying to infect horses headed f
Aug 15, 2015 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark Invasion tells the story of German sabotage efforts in the US during the early (pre-US declaration of war) days of World War I, and the efforts to track down and neutralise these German efforts. Since one of the main German strategies was to place bombs on munition ships heading to the Allies, and there was apparently no US federal agency able or willing to lead, the hero on the US side was Tom Tunney, head of the New York City police bomb squad.

On the one hand, the book tells a story that
Bob H
Dec 23, 2014 Bob H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fast-paced, tautly-written story of German clandestine warfare in US territory during the period, 1914-1917, when the US had not yet declared war, formally, and yet was under secret attack. Anyone familiar with this dark period, as I am, will recognize the characters -- Ambassador Bernstorff, military attaches von Papen and Boy-Ed, spymasters Dr. Albert and von Rintelen, British intelligence agent Guy Gaunt. We see, 100 years ago, the frontline role the NYPD served even then. The work of ...more
Nov 21, 2015 Bob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, germany
Before the US entered WW-I, German agents conducted massive sabotage acts designed to prevent munitions from reaching Britain. The Germans planted delayed action fire bombs on ships, bombed munitions plants, and tried to start a Mexican war with the US. They even set off a bomb in the US Capitol building, and shot JP Morgan in a murder attempt.

Pres Wilson desperately tried to keep the US out of the war but finally had to concede there was no alternative other than to fight. He did not know that
Mar 30, 2015 Ruth rated it did not like it
I will be honest. I did not read this book. Here's the first sentence. "If Eric Muenter hadn't walked across the Harvard campus to Emerson Hall on that wet February day in 1906 to borrow a book, he would never have seen the student pull the short-barreled black revolver from his pocket, aim, and just as his arm was grabbed, fire. And then things might have been different."
Dum de dum dum.
I hate this kind of writing. I wish Blum would have gone to a different creative writing class, because this p
Blum's book Dark Invasion, a nonfiction account of German sabotage in the United States during WWI, reads more like a fiction thriller. If I didn't know the setting (and I definitely didn't know the story) I would think it was fiction after all.

I hemmed and hawed over the five stars, because Blum's background as a newspaper reporter almost makes the book too punchy. But, that is what makes it so readable. Makes me want to read up on the conundrum German-Americans faced during World War I, to und
Jul 22, 2016 Melinda rated it liked it
An interesting book. Never really had the war from this perspective. Told from different POV - and from different countries - Germany, New York...police, medicos...good stuff.
Oct 25, 2015 Andy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The facts are interesting but the non-fiction novel format didn't work very well for me.
Bill F.

Howard Blum's exciting story of the German terrorist cell that operated in the United States in the aftermath of the start of World War I in Europe was inspired by an article Blum read in the CIA's in-house publication, Studies in Intelligence. The article, written by a CIA staff historian one year after 9/11, was subtitled "Protecting the Homeland The First Tome Around".

The story reads like fiction and is well-told by Blum. The hero of the piece is New York City Police Captain Thomas J. Tunney
Steven Kaminski
Dec 02, 2016 Steven Kaminski rated it really liked it
Fascinating book. The early 1910's was an age with no FBI, CIA, Homeland Security or barely a federal official enforcing the laws. In that atmosphere stepped a man named Tom Tunney who was of all things the head of the New York Bomb Squad who in his methods sort of laid the foundations for how a lot of Federal enforcement would come to operate.

- Tunney was elevated to take on a group of Italian anarchists who were bombing churches in the city. Tunney realized he would have to use something that
John Nevola
Jun 25, 2016 John Nevola rated it it was amazing

1915: Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America
Howard Blum
World War I Terrorist/Spy Story

While America purported to remain neutral at the outbreak of World War I, Germany was convinced American sympathies were on the side of England and France. The victuals of war necessary for victory were available to the Allies but were denied to Germany. This was more a function of the English fleet blockading the sea approaches to Germany than a political preference by the Un
Harvey Gunther
Sep 30, 2016 Harvey Gunther rated it it was amazing
Chilling look at the United States pre-entry into "The Great War"
Last Ranger
Jul 17, 2016 Last Ranger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Homeland Security:

In the shadowy world of espionage and counterespionage things are not always what they seem and the truth is often hidden behind a veil of lies. In the US, President Woodrow Wilson was determined to stay out of the "Great War" raging in Europe and remain neutral. But that didn't stop American businesses from selling arms and munitions to the Allied Powers. Germany and the Central Powers were also free to buy war supplies from the US but, due to the UK's Atlantic Blockade, Germ
Apr 13, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book looked incredibly interesting to me. I knew about the U boats, but I had no idea that Germany tried so much espionage during World War I. Throughout reading this book, I kept thinking "Why are they not talking about all this, with all the terrorism we are experiencing from other countries now?" I think more people should know about this. We of course, are very upset about any terrorism that touch our shores, but Al Quaeda and ISIS are not the first countries to pull stunts like ...more
Sep 20, 2016 Seth rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
An interesting book about a part of history that I knew nothing.
May 14, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
I won this book in a GoodReads first reads giveaway.

While this is a subject I had known next to nothing about prior to reading the book, I am always in the lookout for an engaging historical narrative, and Dark Invasion provided an entertaining read.

The book's focus is fairly narrow, focusing mainly on the German Spy/Saboteur ring operating in and around New York City in the year prior to the United States entering World War One. Howard Blum has put together a great spy story from a vast array o
Feb 11, 2016 Stephen rated it liked it
Fascinating topic. Blum clearly spent some time with this. But his categorical refusal to cite sources? Absolutely maddening. I just feel like espionage books should be documented to the hilt.

Blum's writing has a breezy, fast pace that's often enjoyable, but a good chunk of this book is semi-fiction, based on descriptions pulled out of thin air to give an ambiance of old New York. Blum could have toned that down and still had a successful thriller on his hands.

There's also a TON of interesting a
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
Technically this book is "history," but I've labeled it historical fiction because the author was including so many details of his own invention - personal thoughts, emotions, etc. It reads more like history than fiction. But he is definitely walking on the line.

Blum tells the story of how German sabotage in the US from 1914-17. It isn't really terrorism. The agents worked for the German government and their goal was to operate in secret. They wanted the problems they caused to be dismissed as a
May 22, 2016 Kevin rated it really liked it
High school and college survey courses in U.S. History have a tendency to gloss over the events leading to American involvement in World War I with a few moments spent on the sinking of the Lusitania, unrestricted submarine warfare, and the Zimmermann Telegram. Yet Dark Invasion manages to add a unique and interesting level of depth to the study of the War to End All Wars, elaborating on a devestating sequence of events from 1914-1916, the type of which are certainly relevant to the 21st century ...more
Fascinating account of the first case of terrorism in American history, and it was not September 11, 2011. Woodrow Wilson, a pacifist and our president was attempting to keep us out of the war that was beginning in Europe. A war that began after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. As the war was being waged the Germans believed they could wage war on US soil and keep us in fear of jumping into the war including stopping our help with munitions, horses and food to our allies. A variety ...more
Michael Duane  Robbins
This is a hidden chapter of sabotage, committed by an Imperial Germany that didn't want America in the war & came up with all sorts of ingenious plots to undermine our support to the Allies. Primarily it is the duel of wits between New York City police inspector Tom Tunney and his able crew of detectives on the NY bomb squad; & Franz von Rintelen, a man handpicked by Germany's spy agency Abteilung III B. Rintelen was a schemer whose plots included cigar bombs, rudder bombs, creating a ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Many of us tend to think of domestic terrorism in a modern context, but this is the account of its American roots from World War I. The Germans, resenting the use of American armaments by the Allies prior to the the U.S. entry into the war and frustrated by their inability to access the same source due to the Allied blockade, organized and implemented attacks in the U.S.

The effort was launched by Germany and included a wide range of attacks, from explosions, to germ warfare, to assassinations. T
May 05, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it
The US Capital is bombed, ships are catching fire and sinking, anthrax is being manufactured in secret labs, phone calls are being monitored, mail is being intercepted and terrorists are plotting more havoc in this thriller of a book. However, this is not a recounting of current events--these things were occurring prior to the US entering into WWI! Howard Blum has meticulously researched and written a fascinating account of the time and the men tasked with hunting down the German network ...more
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Howard Blum is the author of New York Times bestsellers including Dark Invasion, the Edgar Award–winner American Lightning, as well as Wanted!, The Gold Exodus, Gangland, and The Floor of Heaven. Blum is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. While at the New York Times, he was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. He is the father of three children, and lives in Connect ...more
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