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The War Magician
By David Fisher
Coward-McCann, 1983, 315 pp.
In 1940 an extraordinary team (the "Magic Gang"), led by a stage magician from the London music halls named Jasper Maskelyne, was charged by the British government with designing and constructing camouflages and "illusions" (trompe-l'oeils, sleights of hand) of tanks, submarines and troops, to deceive and confuse enemy bombers and reconnaissance missions in the air and on the ground. Their feats of imagination, technique and nerve, many of them astounding and others merely entertaining, are described "on location" in the desert war in Egypt and Libya, which pitted the British Eighth Army against Rommel and the Afrika Korps-and that bloody and protracted struggle provides a second gripping story. A literally marvelous war tale, well told.
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