Patrick K. O'Donnell

O'Donnell, Patrick K. The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2008.

Goulden, Intelligencer 17.1 (Winter-Spring 2009), says that the author "is a military historian of talent, and this work reflects a tremendous amount of work." The subject matter is the OSS operation to slow the German retreat from Italy by clogging the Brenner Pass. To Peake, Studies 55.3 (Sep. 2011), O'Donnell provides "captivating prose, which is well-cited and based on excellent primary source research."

For Liimatainen, AIJ 27.1 (Fall 2009), this work "is a well-written, exhaustively researched tribute to those who participated in some of the most dangerous missions of WWII." Swaim, A&SPJ 26.3 (Fall 2011), says the author "energetically weav[es] historical fact into an exciting, page-turning drama that reads like the best of adventure fiction."


O'Donnell, Patrick K. First SEALs: The Untold Story of the Forging of America's Most Elite Unit. Boston: DaCapo, 2014.

Mattingly, Proceedings 141.6 (Jun. 2015), finds that the author "tells[s] of the successes and the contribution that OSS MU [Maritime Unit], Navy underwater demolition teams, and naval combat demolition unit operators made to defeat the Axis powers. He also candidly discusses their failures." O'Donnell "provides the reader with the history of the inception of Navy special operations."

[MI/Navy/SpecOps; WWII/OSS/Gen; WWII/U.S./Services/Navy]

O'Donnell, Patrick K. Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of WW II's OSS. New York: Free Press, 2004.

According to Seamon, Proceedings 130.4 (Apr. 2004), the author "lets the men and women" of OSS "tell their stories in their own words. For the most part, these stories are straightforward accounts." Bath, NIPQ 20.4 (Dec. 2004), sees the author giving readers "a comprehensive picture of the OSS from its inception." He has produced "a highly readable story" that "is less a book for the serious student of intelligence than for the non-specialist."

Laurie, Studies 49.1 (2005), notes that the author focuses on the reminiscences of 300 OSS veterans. This "is a useful contribution to the existing literature, and one that many will find fascinating. Unfortunately, these wonderful oral histories are poorly packaged.... [T]he portrait of the OSS presented here is one dimensional, telling only the well-known, often over-romanticized 'cloak and dagger' aspect of the Service's history that perpetuates the popular myth that this is all that intelligence agencies do."

[Women/WWII/U.S.; WWII/OSS/Gen]

O'Donnell, Patrick K. They Dared Return: The True Story of Jewish Spies Behind the Line in Nazi Germany. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2009.

Goulden, Washington Times (15 Jan. 2010) and Intelligencer 17.3 (Winter-Spring 2010), notes that few books about bravery in espionage and war that he has read "moved me as much" as this one did. "Five Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany" join the OSS and take on the mission -- Operation Greentop -- of scouting "the heavily fortified area of Austria's 'Alpine Redoubt.'" The mission "was led by a streetwise sergeant named Fred Mayer, born in Freiburg in 1921.... O'Donnell tells much of the story through the words of Mr. Mayer and surviving members of the group." Peake, Studies 54.3 (Sep. 2010) and Intelligencer 18.1 (Fall-Winter 2010), calls this "a good story, well told"


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