OSS Operation Black Mail

One Woman's Covert War Against the Imperial Japanese Army
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Published:September 15, 2017

PRESS RELEASE: OSS Operation Black Mail: One Woman's Covert War Against the Imperial Japanese Army by Naval Institute Press.

EXCERPT: OSS Operation Black Mail: One Woman's Covert War Against the Imperial Japanese Army.

OSS Operation Black Mail is the story of a remarkable woman who fought World War II on the front lines of psychological warfare. Elizabeth “Betty” P. McIntosh spent eighteen months serving in the Office of Strategic Services in what has been called the “forgotten theater,” China-Burma-India, where she met and worked with characters as varied as Julia Child and Ho Chi Minh. Her craft was black propaganda, and her mission was to demoralize the enemy through prevarication and deceit and, ultimately, to convince him to surrender. Betty and her crew ingeniously obtained and altered personal correspondence between Japanese soldiers and their families on the home islands of Japan. She also ordered the killing of a Japanese courier in the jungles of Burma to plant a false surrender order in his mailbag. She obtained the complete cooperation of a surly enemy prisoner of war to craft that order, copies of which were clutched in the hands of Japanese soldiers walking out of the jungle in 1945.

By the time Betty flew the Hump from Calcutta to China, she was acting head of the Morale Operations branch for the entire theater, overseeing the production of thousands of pamphlets and radio scripts, the generation of fiendishly clever rumors, and the printing of a variety of faked Japanese, Burmese, and Chinese newspapers. Her strategy involved targeting not merely the Japanese soldier but the man within: the son, the husband, the father. She knew her work could ultimately save lives, but she never lost sight of the fact that her propaganda was a weapon and her intended target the enemy.

This is not a typical war story. The only beaches stormed are the minds of an invisible enemy. OSS practitioners of black propaganda suffered no battle fatigue beyond frustration and impatience. Often a great deal of time and effort was expended in conception and production, and rarely was it known if even a shred reached the hands of the intended recipient. The process was opaque on both ends: the origin of a rumor or radio broadcast obscured, the target elusive. For Betty and her friends, time on the front lines of psychological warfare in China-Burma-India rushed by in a cascade of creativity and innovation, played out on a stage where a colonial world was ending and chaos awaited.


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Product Details
  • Subject: Espionage/Intelligence
  • Hardcover : 280 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1682471500
  • ISBN-13: 9781682471500
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 X 9.3 in
  • Shipping Weight: 21.44 oz
  • “....A readable book that is a tribute to an inventive “woman of intelligence” and an important OSS success story.” —The Washington Times
  • “Every page is filled with information that practitioners of the espionage trade, historians of World War II, and the common reader will want to read and re-read.” —Center for the Study of Intelligence
  • "It's well worth a read by people who read your blog and who are interested in World War II history and espionage. It's quite a remarkable book." —Center for International Maritime Security
  • “…for those interested in WWII history, intelligence efforts, and women agents, every page has something fascinating to offer.” —Criminal Element and WildMooBooks
  • "Todd has created a book that should be required reading for anyone interested in the Allied war against Japan, U.S. intelligence operations in the 1940s, and the critical role of women in the OSS and the U.S. intelligence community . . . . There are few books that cover the same ground in Asia, and very few that offer the insight Todd provides on how it feels to work to erode enemy morale as part of a larger war zone effort . . . . Every page is filled with information that practitioners of the espionage trade, historians of World War II, and the common reader will want to read and re-read.” —Studies in Intelligence
  • “A fascinating account of a remarkable woman in extraordinary circumstances. War and spycraft as they have seldom been portrayed. And a wonderful match between author and subject.” —H. W. Brands, New York Times bestselling author of The First American and Traitor to His Class
  • “Ann Todd has made an invaluable contribution to the intelligence literature. Her portrait of OSS officer Betty McIntosh, a personal hero and role model for many of us in the intelligence profession, brings Betty’s amazing story to life. This is a beautifully researched and written book. It is a wonderfully fitting tribute to a legendary American spy.” —James M. Olson, senior lecturer, George Bush School of Government and Public Service, and former Chief of CIA Counterintelligence
  • “Today as ‘fake news’ and ‘disinformation’ muddy our news media and roil our political discourse, this colorful account of an adventurous and deeply patriotic young woman shows what powerful weapons these can be against a wartime adversary. Former reporter Betty McIntosh emerges from these pages as one of OSS General ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan’s most creative shadow warriors.” —Peter Earnest, Executive Director of the International Spy Museum
  • OSS Operation Black Mail is the fascinating story of Betty McIntosh, whose real-life World War II exploits with the OSS sound like the product of a Hollywood screenwriter's imagination. Betty was a trailblazer in American intelligence, both in the OSS and later the CIA. Her story is not to be missed.” —Bill Harlow, former Chief Spokesman, Central Intelligence Agency

ANN TODD has been a contributing author and consultant for the National Geographic Society, given presentations in national parks about OSS operations, and worked as a historian for the National Museum of the Marine Corps. She served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and now lives in Dripping Springs, Texas.

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