Quercus, 1st ed., 2014. X + 402 pp., photo-plates + maps. 24 x 16cm. FINE. During the darkest days of World War II, with the Swastika flying across Europe, Churchill tasked his Special Operations Executive to recruit a band of eccentrics and buccaneers to strike back against a seemingly invincible foe. They were offered little more than desperate glory and all but certain death yet there was no shortage of volunteers. Those chosen would embark upon a series of breath-taking operations, defying all the rules of war and forming what amounted to a private army operating outside the normal chain of command. Dressing in Nazi uniforms, driving their vehicles and yelling orders in German ; raiding the enemy’s stores for weapons and ammo ; abducting or assassinating officers to spread terror in the ranks ; robbing banks to fund further havoc, their story from sign-up through a series of knife-edge missions, to their final desperate battle on Italy’s treacherous Lake Comacchio is drawn from the testimony of the last survivors.