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Nuking the Moon: And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board

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The International Spy Museum's Historian takes us on a wild tour of missions, schemes, and weapons that were planned, but ultimately deemed too dangerous, expensive, ahead of their time, or even certifiably insane In 1958, the US Air Force nuked the moon as a show of military might. In 1967, the CIA implanted recording devices in live cats and sent them into Russia as sp The International Spy Museum's Historian takes us on a wild tour of missions, schemes, and weapons that were planned, but ultimately deemed too dangerous, expensive, ahead of their time, or even certifiably insane In 1958, the US Air Force nuked the moon as a show of military might. In 1967, the CIA implanted recording devices in live cats and sent them into Russia as spies. In 1942, the British built an aircraft carrier made of ice and sawdust, impervious to German torpedoes. Of course, none of these things ever happened. But in Nuking the Moon, intelligence historian Vincent Houghton shows us that what didn't happen is just as illuminating, and every bit as engrossing. WWII and the Cold War were periods of desperation and innovation, a combination that led to brilliant missions and technological advances. But for every Argo or Operation Mincemeat, there were countless abandoned plans. Some are laughable, like the US Navy's plan to train pigeons to pilot missiles; some are implausible, like the Kennedy administration's plan to build a command center 4,000 feet underground; and some are legitimately terrifying, like the cornucopia of US plans to justify attacking Cuba. Through extensive archival research and expert interviews, Vincent Houghton has dug up more than thirty of these fascinating abandoned plans, and recounts the story behind each one in vivid, captivating detail, revealing not only what might have happened, but also what each one tells us about the history and people around it. The first-ever book to bring these historical episodes together, this wholly original work--alternatively terrifying and hilarious, but always riveting--is the unique story of history left on the drawing board.


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The International Spy Museum's Historian takes us on a wild tour of missions, schemes, and weapons that were planned, but ultimately deemed too dangerous, expensive, ahead of their time, or even certifiably insane In 1958, the US Air Force nuked the moon as a show of military might. In 1967, the CIA implanted recording devices in live cats and sent them into Russia as sp The International Spy Museum's Historian takes us on a wild tour of missions, schemes, and weapons that were planned, but ultimately deemed too dangerous, expensive, ahead of their time, or even certifiably insane In 1958, the US Air Force nuked the moon as a show of military might. In 1967, the CIA implanted recording devices in live cats and sent them into Russia as spies. In 1942, the British built an aircraft carrier made of ice and sawdust, impervious to German torpedoes. Of course, none of these things ever happened. But in Nuking the Moon, intelligence historian Vincent Houghton shows us that what didn't happen is just as illuminating, and every bit as engrossing. WWII and the Cold War were periods of desperation and innovation, a combination that led to brilliant missions and technological advances. But for every Argo or Operation Mincemeat, there were countless abandoned plans. Some are laughable, like the US Navy's plan to train pigeons to pilot missiles; some are implausible, like the Kennedy administration's plan to build a command center 4,000 feet underground; and some are legitimately terrifying, like the cornucopia of US plans to justify attacking Cuba. Through extensive archival research and expert interviews, Vincent Houghton has dug up more than thirty of these fascinating abandoned plans, and recounts the story behind each one in vivid, captivating detail, revealing not only what might have happened, but also what each one tells us about the history and people around it. The first-ever book to bring these historical episodes together, this wholly original work--alternatively terrifying and hilarious, but always riveting--is the unique story of history left on the drawing board.

30 review for Nuking the Moon: And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    This was pretty funny or sad depending on how you view it. Hindsight isn't always 20-20, but you have the luxury of multiple perspectives, of course, you have to live life forwards not backwards and as much as Houghton relays the absurdity of some of these schemes--what were they thinking?--he always rightly points out that what you're thinking in the heat of the moment in relation to what you're aware of and fearing what you're not, you make decisions. And honestly, they're not always the best This was pretty funny or sad depending on how you view it. Hindsight isn't always 20-20, but you have the luxury of multiple perspectives, of course, you have to live life forwards not backwards and as much as Houghton relays the absurdity of some of these schemes--what were they thinking?--he always rightly points out that what you're thinking in the heat of the moment in relation to what you're aware of and fearing what you're not, you make decisions. And honestly, they're not always the best ones. The book had different sections, though I was particularly fond of the animal cohorts. Napalm bats and Acoustic Kitty were pretty awesomely insane. Werner von Braun shows up more than you'd expect, or maybe not, and Carl Sagan gets thrown under the bus. High entertainment factor.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    A bit of interesting information about the CIA and some of their weirder plans. It was just an ok read for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shane Hawk

    Spook history from a spook historian Some very laughable moments when one realizes the full potential of our [clandestine] overseers’ incompetence. Houghton’s humor was not for me but made for an easier and informal read. It would’ve been more enjoyable for me if it weren’t for his giddiness for spies and arms, and his random tangents on Russian collusion and climate change. One can wholeheartedly feel the intelligence agencies’ input in this production and I should have figured that Spook history from a spook historian Some very laughable moments when one realizes the full potential of our [clandestine] overseers’ incompetence. Houghton’s humor was not for me but made for an easier and informal read. It would’ve been more enjoyable for me if it weren’t for his giddiness for spies and arms, and his random tangents on Russian collusion and climate change. One can wholeheartedly feel the intelligence agencies’ input in this production and I should have figured that going into it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This book is of some interest to those interested in science, the cold war, espionage, or historical oddities. However, it could have been a better book than it is if the author hadn't tried quite so hard to be so "cute". I actually struggle to categorize the writing in this book. Some people call it "dumbing down" but I don't think it's that. Rather, it is the kind of writing that is trying too hard to "reach" people who otherwise hate to read by throwing in all kinds of snarky comments, pop-cu This book is of some interest to those interested in science, the cold war, espionage, or historical oddities. However, it could have been a better book than it is if the author hadn't tried quite so hard to be so "cute". I actually struggle to categorize the writing in this book. Some people call it "dumbing down" but I don't think it's that. Rather, it is the kind of writing that is trying too hard to "reach" people who otherwise hate to read by throwing in all kinds of snarky comments, pop-culture references, and other efforts at "lightening the mood". I'd include an example, but it would be too much work to transcribe and not really worth the effort. Perhaps I am a snob on this, and certainly I am persnickety, but I just loathe this kind of effort to "win readers" by appealing to what I think is the lowest common denominator type of intellectual referent. I think there are plenty of authors out there who write very accessibly, do not engage in such low-brow tricks, and yet who are avidly followed by hordes of readers. As a case in point, the highly accessible and thrilling book BLIND MAN'S BLUFF, which relates some of the hidden history of Cold War US submarine operations, is very straightforwardly written and is readable and popular. Luckily this volume was a short read, and I do wish it had been better.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Hunter

    Nuking The Moon was an entertaining book about various military and intelligence plans that never got off the drawing board. Most of the schemes discussed fell into the categories of too expensive or ridiculous. Houghton writes about CIA plans to use housecats as listening devices, unsupervised nuclear weapons floating out at sea, and spray painting foxes in dayglo colors to scare the Japanese people. At times, this book runs the gamut of frightening and hilarious.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matthew J.

    A whole bunch of really, really bad ideas (and a few interesting ones that just didn't work out) are explored in this book of failures. From exploding bats, to giant space mirrors, to the titular nuking of the Moon, Dr. Vince Houghton takes us on a guided tour through the drawing boards (and frighteningly the test sites) of some strange ideas. For History and tech buffs, this one is a must read. But it's also just fun (and scary) if you want good stories well told. Dr. Houghton's style is conver A whole bunch of really, really bad ideas (and a few interesting ones that just didn't work out) are explored in this book of failures. From exploding bats, to giant space mirrors, to the titular nuking of the Moon, Dr. Vince Houghton takes us on a guided tour through the drawing boards (and frighteningly the test sites) of some strange ideas. For History and tech buffs, this one is a must read. But it's also just fun (and scary) if you want good stories well told. Dr. Houghton's style is conversational and filled with humor. (I actually know Vince, and the book reads just like he talks, which is great, because he's an excellent storyteller). He doesn't drown you in technobabble. He doesn't talk down to you or past you. You don't need to be an expert to 'get' it. You'll recognize some of the names of folks who get wrapped up in these bad ideas. You'll remember a few of the headlines that came from them...at least the ones that made a public splash. A few ideas were more victims of timing than of conception, but many should never have been considered, and certainly not funded for any amount of time. I can't promise this book will help you sleep better, 'cause you know bad ideas are still out there.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dayna

    What a marvelous dinner guest Mr. Houghton must be! This book was highly informative & written in a witty, down-to-earth manner. I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway shortly after paying my taxes & had to laugh at the follies financed by my sweat & blood. I actually prefer having my money go toward such lunacy than to our corrupt mayor who is running the city into debt (while collecting 200K/year for a 2 hour consultation from a bank) or our useless governor with the voice - b What a marvelous dinner guest Mr. Houghton must be! This book was highly informative & written in a witty, down-to-earth manner. I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway shortly after paying my taxes & had to laugh at the follies financed by my sweat & blood. I actually prefer having my money go toward such lunacy than to our corrupt mayor who is running the city into debt (while collecting 200K/year for a 2 hour consultation from a bank) or our useless governor with the voice - but not the charisma - of Kermit the Frog.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Imagine you've just wandered into the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. You run into the museum's historian in the hallway, and for some reason he opens up to you. In the coffee shop downstairs, he starts telling you about all the crazy stuff that never made it off the drawing board at the CIA and the Pentagon. And it's hard not to listen, because he speaks in a breezy, conversational style, and he's often funny. These are comic misadventures that are sometimes, well, comic. And that's Imagine you've just wandered into the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. You run into the museum's historian in the hallway, and for some reason he opens up to you. In the coffee shop downstairs, he starts telling you about all the crazy stuff that never made it off the drawing board at the CIA and the Pentagon. And it's hard not to listen, because he speaks in a breezy, conversational style, and he's often funny. These are comic misadventures that are sometimes, well, comic. And that's exactly what you'll find when you open up Nuking the Moon. The author is Vince Houghton, and, yes, he's the museum's historian and curator. Now, that's actually Dr. Houghton. He holds a PhD in Diplomatic and Military History from the University of Maryland. He's an Army veteran besides. But there's nothing in Nuking the Moon that's suggestive of Pentagon bureaucracy or wooden academic jargon. Houghton relates a long list of cockamamie schemes—some of them silly, even downright stupid, and some dangerous beyond belief—that ostensibly serious and intelligent men (it was almost always men) dreamed up in the name of national security over the past three-quarters of a century. As the author explains, "Most history books are full of stories of things that happened; this is a history book full of stories behind things that didn't happen." The comic misadventures in national security that you never heard about Along the way in this recitation of comic misadventures, you'll meet a smattering of name-brand individuals: Ronald Reagan, Edward Teller, Werner von Braun, and Carl Sagan, as well as others who were equally accomplished but less well known. And every one of them at some point in his storied career got behind some unbelievably stupid (and usually expensive) plan to do something like embedding a listening device in a cat or exploding a nuclear weapon on the moon. The CIA actually field-tested what they called Acoustic Kitty (it got run over by a car) and that nuke was never rocketed to the moon because the Cold War ended. Yes, as Houghton notes, "all of these stories should have you saying, 'What were they thinking?'" And believe me, you'll be saying that.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    (Audiobook) The is the old adage that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. This is also the thought that governments all have incredibly hair-brained schemes they are working on in secret that most in the general population would not believe could ever come to fruition. This book is a catalog of many of those type of schemes, some of which triggered extensive research and expenditure of billions of dollars. This work mainly covers World War II and the Cold War. Another cliche that applies t (Audiobook) The is the old adage that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. This is also the thought that governments all have incredibly hair-brained schemes they are working on in secret that most in the general population would not believe could ever come to fruition. This book is a catalog of many of those type of schemes, some of which triggered extensive research and expenditure of billions of dollars. This work mainly covers World War II and the Cold War. Another cliche that applies to this book is that desperate times call for desperate measures. For the US, those two events were perhaps the most desperate times for the country, and no idea was too looney or absurd to dismiss. Everything from using house cats as eavesdropping assets to nuking the moon to prove American superiority is discussed in great detail in this work. It is both funny and scary what is discussed. Some of these things I had heard about, but others, I had not. Of note, I read this book right as Hurricane Dorian is hitting the US East Coast. The past few days have generate headlines about the use of nuclear weapons against hurricanes. Yes, this book was published long before now, but it does go into great detail about just such plans of using nuclear weapons detonated into hurricanes. It was never fully implemented due to cost and resources (multiple nuclear detonations inside of storm to even consider making an impact). The author throws in a lot of humor and snark in his writing, and the reader conveys that. The various Florida jokes don’t hurt either. Worth a read at least once, whether audiobook or hard/e-copy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Read Ng

    I saw the title and immediately wanted to read this. I love the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. How can an Historian from this museum not write an entertaining and informative book? Houghton does deliver. I was really fascinated and enjoyed the first part of this book. Houghton's writing is very conversational. His writing somewhat parallels my own. I was immediately captivated. Up to the end of Part II, everything was shiny, new, and outlandish. Just my type of I saw the title and immediately wanted to read this. I love the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. How can an Historian from this museum not write an entertaining and informative book? Houghton does deliver. I was really fascinated and enjoyed the first part of this book. Houghton's writing is very conversational. His writing somewhat parallels my own. I was immediately captivated. Up to the end of Part II, everything was shiny, new, and outlandish. Just my type of book, filled with interesting tidbits of life and the thought process reflective of the times. But starting at the tail end of Part II, I started to discover that most of the rest of the book I already knew about the existence of a majority of the programs discussed. My expectations where not met, but I had set a pretty high bar. For those naive to the subject, you will love this book. It is a great series of stories told in a friendly bar table manner. For me personally, I would have liked more obscure information and trivial of facts I wasn't already aware of. This was a GoodReads. I hope it leads to a sequel, uncovering more wacky projects that I wasn't expecting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tonya Woodbury

    So, I was inclined to like this book to begin with because it talks about failed government acquisition projects and military plans, and I audit large acquisition projects, some of which can only be described as failures. In fact, some of the projects I’ve worked on are discussed in this book, or rather their precursors that were cancelled and have since been resurrected in new, equally as impossible forms. (I’m talking about you missile defense.) Regardless of my pre-inclination to like this bo So, I was inclined to like this book to begin with because it talks about failed government acquisition projects and military plans, and I audit large acquisition projects, some of which can only be described as failures. In fact, some of the projects I’ve worked on are discussed in this book, or rather their precursors that were cancelled and have since been resurrected in new, equally as impossible forms. (I’m talking about you missile defense.) Regardless of my pre-inclination to like this book, I think that anyone would enjoy it. Houghton is the owner of the Spy Museum here in DC and revels in the nerdy history of failed espionage tactics and national security plans like using cats as listening devices, bats as bombs, nuclear bunkers under the Pentagon, aircraft carriers made of ice, and spacecraft propelled by nuclear explosions. He brings a unique and hilarious voice to the retelling of these ridiculous stories and helps you realize the audaciousness of the plots that desperate men – and women, but let’s be honest, mostly men – came up with in attempts to thwart enemies and win wars. Highly recommend for anyone who wants a good read and a good laugh.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rob Thompson

    Why did the US intelligence services fail so spectacularly to know about the Soviet Union's nuclear capabilities following World War II? As Vince Houghton, historian and curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, shows us, that disastrous failure came just a few years after the Manhattan Project's intelligence team had penetrated the Third Reich and knew every detail of the Nazi 's plan for an atomic bomb. What changed and what went wrong? And why did the idea to weaponize bats n Why did the US intelligence services fail so spectacularly to know about the Soviet Union's nuclear capabilities following World War II? As Vince Houghton, historian and curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, shows us, that disastrous failure came just a few years after the Manhattan Project's intelligence team had penetrated the Third Reich and knew every detail of the Nazi 's plan for an atomic bomb. What changed and what went wrong? And why did the idea to weaponize bats never work? Or what about the idea to turn a cat into a listening device? Vince takes us on a wild tour of missions and schemes that almost happened, but were ultimately deemed too dangerous, expensive, ahead of their time, or even certifiably insane Written in a conversational upbeat, humorous style with loads of pop-culture references. It is both terrifying and hilarious, but always riveting. This is a unique story of a whole bunch of really, really bad ideas (and a few intriguing ones that just didn't work out) So, if you are you interested in the cold war, historical oddities and espionage. Then this book is for you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Vince Houghton does a great job taking impossible for civilians to understand information and breaking it down in a humorous way everyone can appreciate. The biggest surprise and enjoyment of this book is how funny it is. Houghton shows how absurd some of these ideas were, and how close they actually came to being attempted. It's great even for people who aren't history or military/intelligence buffs. My only complaint is that as the book went on, it seemed a bit rushed. Some topics seemed Vince Houghton does a great job taking impossible for civilians to understand information and breaking it down in a humorous way everyone can appreciate. The biggest surprise and enjoyment of this book is how funny it is. Houghton shows how absurd some of these ideas were, and how close they actually came to being attempted. It's great even for people who aren't history or military/intelligence buffs. My only complaint is that as the book went on, it seemed a bit rushed. Some topics seemed like there wasn't all that much information, but needed to be brought up just because they were that strange. The most rushed was the chapter about nuking the moon. There wasn't much info besides they came up with a plan to nuke the moon, but it's a weird story so how do you not try to tell it with what little info you have? The book was received for free via GoodReads giveaways

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jc

    Nuking the Moon is lighter and funnier [hilarious even] than I was expecting. But Houghton, the International Spy Museum's (DC) historian seems to have a more serious purpose in mind than just telling funny anecdotes about how ridiculous government and the world of spying/intelligence can be. He also seems to be warning us all that the sort of lunatic-fringe thinking that was behind these bizarre and terrifying almost-missteps in American intelligence is still with us. We remain in constant dang Nuking the Moon is lighter and funnier [hilarious even] than I was expecting. But Houghton, the International Spy Museum's (DC) historian seems to have a more serious purpose in mind than just telling funny anecdotes about how ridiculous government and the world of spying/intelligence can be. He also seems to be warning us all that the sort of lunatic-fringe thinking that was behind these bizarre and terrifying almost-missteps in American intelligence is still with us. We remain in constant danger of new, just as ambitious, and just as stupid, covert actions destroying our life-styles, our safety, and possibly even our very existence. One of the funniest yet quite sobering books about bad ideas you will ever read. Plus, you will learn why cats do not make good spies.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    This book was fascinating and bonkers! It is pretty crazy all the things governments have done, tried to do, or contemplated doing. If stories about implanting recording/transmitting devices into cats to spy on the Russian embassy or attempting to attach immolation devices on bats to use in world war II sounds interesting; then this book is for you. Sometimes these plans work well and other times they don't like when the U.S. tested the bats with the immolation devices only to release the bats f This book was fascinating and bonkers! It is pretty crazy all the things governments have done, tried to do, or contemplated doing. If stories about implanting recording/transmitting devices into cats to spy on the Russian embassy or attempting to attach immolation devices on bats to use in world war II sounds interesting; then this book is for you. Sometimes these plans work well and other times they don't like when the U.S. tested the bats with the immolation devices only to release the bats from the plane too early and have them catch the military base on fire rather than the test field.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mathieu Gaudreault

    A funny and fascinating book to read. From killing or humiliating Castro(losing his beard) to building a nuclear spacecraft(project Orion). The authors uses popular culture to help understand those wack projects. Its not a contrefactuals. There 21 chapters in 4 différents sections(Animal,wack operations, extraordinary technology (including Nazi mirror satellite) and the last section is about nuclear projects. A must have book about secret projects unless you are from Florida(read A funny and fascinating book to read. From killing or humiliating Castro(losing his beard) to building a nuclear spacecraft(project Orion). The authors uses popular culture to help understand those wack projects. Its not a contrefactuals. There 21 chapters in 4 différents sections(Animal,wack operations, extraordinary technology (including Nazi mirror satellite) and the last section is about nuclear projects. A must have book about secret projects unless you are from Florida(read the book and know why).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ricky

    Intriguing, to say the least. Sometimes humourous. Somewhat silly in the early chapters, but a little after halfway through, the schemes and plots become frightening. The concluding chapter, Project A119, discussed American and Soviet plans to nuke the moon for what were basically PR purposes - Nuking The Moon makes for a great title and a logical way to close the narrative. However, chapter 19, "Project Iceworm," discusses something set in motion and cancelled, that may ultimately co Intriguing, to say the least. Sometimes humourous. Somewhat silly in the early chapters, but a little after halfway through, the schemes and plots become frightening. The concluding chapter, Project A119, discussed American and Soviet plans to nuke the moon for what were basically PR purposes - Nuking The Moon makes for a great title and a logical way to close the narrative. However, chapter 19, "Project Iceworm," discusses something set in motion and cancelled, that may ultimately come back and bite us in our collective arses decades down the line.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David

    I'd already heard about several of the stories in this book via other sources but not all and not in as much detail generally. A fascinating read, though much like a collection of short stories, some are more interesting than others. Written in an engaging and very humorous style, it was well worth reading for anyone with any interest in espionage or military history or just curious as to WTF were they thinking??? Seriously??? The glow in the dark foxes particularly seem to have amused several f I'd already heard about several of the stories in this book via other sources but not all and not in as much detail generally. A fascinating read, though much like a collection of short stories, some are more interesting than others. Written in an engaging and very humorous style, it was well worth reading for anyone with any interest in espionage or military history or just curious as to WTF were they thinking??? Seriously??? The glow in the dark foxes particularly seem to have amused several friends and family members as it continues to be brought up randomly in conversation now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sean Kottke

    Entertaining overall. The author has a conversational style that is welcoming, although a snarky streak occasionally reminds me of a writing style I associate with the self-published. The most outrageous stories are in the first and final thirds, with some (by comparison) mundane secret military projects in the middle. This was an especially good read to accompany Independence Day weekend binging of the third season of "Stranger Things" and of "Chernobyl."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This book details some of the strangest and most absurd ideas to ever be considered by military and intelligence leaders. These include the bizzare (bombing Nazis with goat poop) to the insane (detonating a nuke on the moon just because). Many of these ideas thankfully never made it past the planning stage, some made it further than the public should be comfortable. Bottom line, if you want to find out what real mad scientists can come up with then check out this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Shawn

    An incredibly fun look at half-baked, abandoned, top secret, and off-the-wall ideas that have come to pass through the military and intelligence arms of the US and others. From using a cat as a listening device, to literally nuking the moon as a show of force, to using glow in the dark foxes to scare Japanese civilians, these stories are enough to make you question the "intelligence" part of our spy agencies. Quick, breezy reading, perfect for digesting a chapter or two at a time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Got the audiobook version of this out of the public library. It was an ok listen, the first few chapters were pretty good though after the focus shifted towards nuclear missiles things often got pretty boring but I kept listening in short bursts and made it to the end. It's narrated by the author himself and he's easy enough to listen to and is clearly good at distilling things down for the layperson. Not a book I'd care to own but I'm happy enough to have listened to this one.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jānis

    Could be good 3 stars, for the main topic, with - Recommended. But I ended up with 2 stars because of all stupid jokes and some subjective "funny" opinions, especially in audiobook version, where you can't skip them. Really annoying. They could be ok for young college students, but I don't think that they are buyers of such a book. Maybe jokes were for filling the space? Because I was expecting more stories.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    These were think tanks? Bombing bats to fight the Japanese in WWII or covert cats retrofitted to spy during the cold war. A fascinating read, though much like a collection of short stories, some are more interesting than others. Written in an engaging and very humorous style, it was well worth reading for anyone with any interest in espionage or military history or just curious as to WTF were they thinking??? Seriously???

  25. 5 out of 5

    Terzah

    Houghton is a historian at the Spy Museum in Washington D.C. This book documents some of the military and espionage schemes that the government considered but (fortunately) abandoned. A lot of it was funny, and the author has a nice light touch, but it was also sobering, especially the stuff involving animals, which was often downright cruel. It makes you wonder....what wild plans are in the works right now? And will we be smart enough to abandon them?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nissa

    What a fantastic book. I literally could not put this book down, read it straight through. Very informative, and humorous. Not dry at all! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in military history. I want to thank Penguin-Random House for sending me a free copy of this book for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Occasionally thought provoking, sometimes amusing, intermittently frightening, sporadically laugh out loud funny, and infrequently really, really fascinating. Would have been better read in small doses, perhaps and I love the concept but never really took off for me. I would definitely visit the museum though!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Entertaining NF written in engaging (occasionally snarky), conversational manner by the curator of the International Spy Museum. Filled with trivia and interesting factoids about failed CIA operations/developments/inventions that will make you interesting at parties and bars. But only if you are surrounded by people who have an interest in that sort of thing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ian Hamilton

    This is a remotely entertaining and quick read for the espionage nut but probably has little or no appeal beyond the niche reader - too much redundancy in content; could have been half the length and included more oddities around the non-technical side of all things espionage; needlessly quirky in many areas.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Pop history of crazy ideas put forward by various Western (read US) intelligence and military agencies over the years. A fun read but very much pop history with the author talking directly to the reader and pop culture reference liberally sprinkled through. Contrary to the very serious historian tone taken in the introduction, he is often very judgemental of the projects involved. Also he took a totally unnecessary swipe at counterfactual history in the introduction which I found very annoying. Pop history of crazy ideas put forward by various Western (read US) intelligence and military agencies over the years. A fun read but very much pop history with the author talking directly to the reader and pop culture reference liberally sprinkled through. Contrary to the very serious historian tone taken in the introduction, he is often very judgemental of the projects involved. Also he took a totally unnecessary swipe at counterfactual history in the introduction which I found very annoying. Still, an amusing read.

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