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Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,562 ratings  ·  488 reviews
The explosive story of America’s secret post-WWII science programs, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51

In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich’s scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis’ once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip,
Hardcover, 575 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Little, Brown and Company
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“For Operation Paperclip, moving a scientist from military custody to immigrant status required elaborate and devious preparation, but in the end the procedure proved to be infallible. Scientists in the southwestern or western United States, accompanied by military escort, were driven in an unmarked army jeep out of the country into Mexico…With him, each scientist carried two forms from the State Department, I-55 and I-255, each bearing a signature from the chief of the visa division and a provi ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Matt by: BAM The Bibliomaniac
Shelves: audiobook
I have read a significant amount about the Second World War, to the point that I have almost completely tired of the topic. However, Annie Jacobsen breathes new life and excitement into the subject and the years that followed with this book that discusses a complex program the United States’ government worked to cobble together as the Nazi regime fell apart. Jacobsen’s painstakingly detailed discussions of Operation: Paperclip not only reveal some of the controversial decisions about science and ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Jacobsen has definitely done her research, in fact, this is so overly detailed as to be tedious reading. Never the less, what she brings to the table is immense and important in our understanding of history.

After World War 2, the world discovered the Nazi atrocities and the world was never the same. Healing has been difficult and slow. Furthermore, the American government faced a crucial decision with what to do with these highly intelligent Nazi scientists and engineers. The Russians were swoo
Steven Z.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
At the conclusion of her new book, OPERATION PAPERCLIP: THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM THAT NAZI SCIENTISTS BROUGHT TO AMERICA, Annie Jacobsen discusses her battles with American military and intelligence authorities in trying to obtain documents relating to the employ of Nazi scientists by the United States Army and other government agencies following World War II. In her discussion a common theme reaches fruition in 2012 as the Department of Defense finally declassified a 1945 list of Nazi do ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in Operation Paperclip and post-1945 world history
Earlier in the year, I attended a book reading by Anne Jacobsen about this subject, which was complete with a rather impressive slide presentation. What she said about Operation Paperclip that day not only induced me to buy this book later that week. But more importantly, it forever altered my previous view of Operation Paperclip, which, from the time I first became aware of it sometime in the 1980s, I had regarded as a wholly noble effort on the part of the U.S. government to locate, retrieve, ...more
11811 (Eleven)
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was mind blowing. I'll think of something to comment on later. I'm kinda anxious to start one of her other books.

Fans of post-WWII history: You want to read this.
David Quijano
Jun 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Sometime before quarantine, I was listening to Joe Rogan's podcast and he mentioned Operation Paperclip multiple times (I think it was the Alex Jones episode). I decided to see what Mr. Rogan was going on about and read a book on the subject. In my search for a book on the subject, this was the first one to pop up and it had good reviews so I decided to go with it. What I didn't realize was that it was all downhill from that point on.

I vaguely knew that the US brought Nazi scientists to America
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the 1955 Disneyland TV series “Man in Space”, mentioned in this book, best shows the American attitude towards using German science (Nazi science) to assist the country in furthering the ability to make war. This benign looking series, with lots of cartoons, some of them racist, talks about the captured V-2 rocket as the start of the U.S. missile/space program. Not mentioned in the “Man in Space” first show, is that the V-2 rocket was built by slaves for the Nazis. This fact is ignored a ...more
Jeffrey Taylor
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
There are three major questions that this book raises:

1. The legal question: Was justice served? Despite the Nuremburg trials, given the immensity of the war crimes far too many people served token imprisonment and many of them were released early as a result of West German complaints that these were political prisoners punished by the victors.

2. The pragmatic question: Were these scientists needed to win the cold war? I think the answer is yes. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words and the pi
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Nazi scientists who worked in slave labor factories and performed deadly medical experiments on prisoners are war criminals by any decent persons definition. Many of the scientists working for the Reich were ardent Nazi's and members of the SS Werner von Braun among them. In 1946 the Nuremberg trials convicted many of the Nazi leadership for crimes against humanity. The cold war was heating up and the American military fear losing top Nazi scientists to the Russians. Shortly after the war hundr ...more
Nick Black
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-heart-war
well-written, well-researched, generous and precise citations (except one odd line, where Mrs. Jacobsen writes "he resigned at least two of his five public, taxpayer-funded positions" -- didn't want to leg that one out, i guess), and definitely authoritative (the author is the first to publish on several documents declassified for this book). a good companion to Goudsmit's Alsos documents for the immediate postwar science rush through occupied germany and Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer o ...more
David Elkin
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well researched and it tells a dark tale. I am convinced that this introduced a poison into the American political stream that allowed some very bad people to gain power in certain institutions. Eisenhower warned us in 60, and JFK paid a price in 63. The end did not justify the means used to "combat" the USSR in the cold War. It is a story worth studying and how hubris allowed the US to go down this dismal path.
In 1945, Operation Overcast (renamed Operation Paperclip for the paperclips attached to the dossiers of the scientist) began. More than 1600 German scientist were secretly recruited to work for the United States. There was a race between the United States and the U.S.S. R. to obtain these scientists. At the time Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rabbi Steven Wise publically opposed the program.

In 1998 President Clinton signed the Nazi War Crimes disclosure Act, which pushed through the decl
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who is a history buff, this is one of the best books telling the story of the closing days of WWII. Annie Jacobsen's research is phenomenal. Her book tells the story of the end of the war.... Germany knows it is going to lose......she doesn't even know who the final conqueror will be...Russia or the United States...the US is coming from the West and Russia is barreling towards Germany from the East. To me it is the most detailed story of the war from midway in 1944 to past the their ...more
This is a very readable book about a very ugly story. The general facts are well-known and Jacobsen provides riveting details, not new revelations.

The book is nevertheless a journalistic treatment, not a scholarly one. Like her other book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, Operation Paperclip needs some better editing. For instance, on page 330, Jacobsen writes that in 1947 a group of Nazi war criminals travelled from Yalta to Moscow "by private jet." A jet, i
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
You really get to know each one of the individual perpetrators in this book. Sometimes it can feel a bit repetitive and overwhelming, but overall there is a wealth of information that really sticks with you. In war films, I sometimes hear these names and remember reading about them in Operation Paperclip. It was enlightening to read.
Jessica V
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Annie Jacobsen’s books explore historical topics in that sweet intersection of military, intelligence, ethics, and defense science. She’s surprisingly well researched, as she’s gathering information on highly classified portions of history through declassified papers, FOIA requests, journals, documents hidden in attics, and personal interviews. She’s an author that reminds the world what good investigative journalism can do for a society.

Operation Paperclip is the story of a postwar U.S. govern
As advertised, the story of the program that brought the Paperclip scientists to America (and the story behind the Paperclip name). Not all that much is revealed about the projects the scientists worked on for the US, apart from what’s come to light with NASA, and mostly because not all that much of the full picture is known. Files remain classified, or become declassified but “lost.” The hall of mirrors still exists.

But how it came about, that we now know. Or enough of a glimpse at least. Also
Sachin N
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Received this book as a part of the Goodreads giveaway. Was promised a hardcover but got a softcover but no complaints!

This book is highly recommended to WWII buffs and historians who are looking for a complete and one-stop reference of Operation PaperClip. For the uninitiated, Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II. And, yes, these scientists were granted
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, owned
I got this book as a first-reads giveaway. It was a really fascinating, and horrifying look at a part of America's history I didn't know much about. The book provides thorough evidence that people in the US government knowingly brought scientists responsible for experimenting on people, mass murders and use of slave labor to America for their knowledge of chemical/biological warfare. It also shows the struggles of other Americans to make sure that war crimes were prosecuted and try to bring atte ...more
Sharon Richardson
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Incredible and fascinating. At times I found it difficult following all the different scientists and their atrocities and research in Germany while trying to maintain the connection to what they did later in the US. However, I found the book to be an amazing and interesting historical account of this post- WWII period. Operation Paperclip is shrouded in controversy and certainly poses the question, does the ends justify the means? I loved this book, and I learned a lot!
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This comprehensive book follows a handful of the 1,600+ Nazi war criminals the United States brought over from Germany after the Nuremberg tribunals. Readers learn about the atrocities these men committed in the name of science during the war and that papers were falsified so that these men could use their expertise to advance the U.S.'s chemical weapon arsenal and put the nation ahead in the Space Race.
B.  Barron
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Our government sucks.
Johnny T
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finally, I finished this just one month shy of a year from when I started it!

This book can be dense at times because of how much information you're sifting through, but it is definitely worth it.

Addressing the elephant in the room: is this book 'biased' as some care to point out? I would say no. The book certainly speaks of what went on in Operation Paperclip with distaste, but that's honestly mostly because of the level of deception and underhandedness the program underwent. I honestly don't b
Jimmy Page
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have now listened to all but one of Annie Jacobsen's audiobooks and the topics seem to be getting better and better. To be honest I go this book to listen to because I thought it was going to be all about the rocket scientists that were brought to the US under Operation Paperclip because I thought that was the main reason for the program...I was wrong. This book was about so much more and I can't believe what I learned about this time in history. Of course Annie did tough on Dr. Werner Von Bra ...more
Ailith Twinning
Jun 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
I won't call it what I think it is, because Annie may just be a shit writer. But here's a few bullet points

* Neither a journalist, nor a historian, EVER provides the official explanation of a government of, or for, its actions without comment. Never. You do it, and you have neither credibility nor integrity. One example being the "Long Telegram" where an emotional overview of the document is provided, and, that's it. No further comment. Annie feels the need to speculate on the personal strife be
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a phenomenal book. Well written and meticulously researched, this book will open a lot of people's eyes about our willingness to look the other way, even if it comes to working with Nazi scientists that were responsible for the death of thousands of prisoners and slaves.

The book focuses on 21 scientists to a varying degree, ranging from Nazi rocket scientists like von Braun and Dornberger to chemist like Otto Ambrose and biologists like Walter Schreiber and Kurt Blome. While their field
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you ever thought the US Space program was created and developed under innocent themes, you may want to read this book. Thoroughly researched and documented, Annie Jacobsen lays out the backstory around the use of Nazi scientists to develop the US space program. She lays out the foundations of what the scientist did to aid the Nazi regime and their involvement in the war machine and their role in the Holocaust.

An eye-opening account of the horrors that were overlooked by the US Army and space
Merritt Webb
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book follows 21 Nazi scientists the US recruited after WW2...some of whom were war criminals. It was a very turbulent time, and the US sought to buttress defenses against the Soviet Union. Hundreds of scientists were recruited, but this book focuses on 21.

One of the most interesting parts was just how much Cold War paranoia and fear drove us to abandon our ideals. (Not unlike what is happening with the war on terror now.)

Another interesting aspect was that the US is still trying to keep thi
Ned Leffingwell
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a crazy story. I had heard of Operation Paperclip from the book Acid Dreams but I could not find many books on the subject. This text does a good job of covering the program and shedding a light on a morally dubious Cold War program. If you needed reassurance that the Nazis were evil, self-serving monsters then read this book and be shocked at how many of them were hired by the U.S. government after WWII.
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Underground Knowl...: Operation Paperclip 11 59 Nov 19, 2015 01:27PM  
This is my grandfather, and it's lies. 4 77 Jun 16, 2014 11:37AM  
The Written Word: March 2014 Book of the Month 1 6 Mar 06, 2014 11:30AM  

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Annie Jacobsen is a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of AREA 51, OPERATION PAPERCLIP, THE PENTAGON'S BRAIN, PHENOMENA—and SURPRISE, KILL, VANISH, paperback out July 7, 2020.

She also writes and produces TV (Tom Clancy's JACK RYAN) and the forthcoming PHENOMENA (Amblin/Blumhouse), a dramatic series based on her book PHENOMENA.

A graduate of Princeton University

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