Scholars of Mayhem
The astonishing untold story of the author's father, the lone American on a 4-person SOE commando team dropped behind German lines in France, whose epic feats of irregular warfare proved vital in keeping Nazi tanks away from Normandy after D-Day.When Daniel Guiet was a child and his family moved country, as they frequently did, his father had one possession, a tin bread box, that always made the trip. Daniel was admonished never to touch the box, but one day he couldn't resist. What he found astonished him: a .45 automatic and five full clips; three slim knives; a length of wire with a wooden handle at each end; thin pieces of paper with random numbers on them; several passports with his father's photograph, each bearing a different name; and a large silk square with eight flags, with a message underneath each flag in the language corresponding to it. The one in English read: "I am an American. Help me. You will be well paid."Eventually Jean Claude Guiet revealed to his family that he had been in the CIA, but it was only at the very end of his life that he spoke of the mission during World War II that marked the beginning of his career in clandestine service. It is one of the last great untold stories of the war, and Daniel Guiet and his collaborator, the writer Tim Smith, have spent several years bringing it to life. Jean Claude was an American citizen but a child of France, and fluent in the language; he was also extremely bright. The American military was on the lookout for native French speakers to be seconded to a secret British special operations commando operation, dropping saboteurs behind German lines in France to coordinate aid to the French Resistance and lead missions wreaking havoc on Germany's military efforts across the entire country. Jean Claude was recruited, and his life was changed forever. Though the human cost was terrible, the mission succeeded beyond the Allies' wildest dreams.Scholars of Mayhem tells the story of Jean Claude and the other three agents in his "circuit," codenamed Salesman, a unit of Britain's Special Operations Executive, the secret service ordered by Churchill to "Set Europe ablaze." Parachuted into France the day after D-Day, the Salesman team organized, armed, and commanded a ghostly army of 10,000 French Resistance fighters. National pride has kept the story of SOE in France obscure, but of this there is no doubt: While the Resistance had plenty of heart, it was SOE that gave it teeth and claws. Scholars of Mayhem adds brilliantly to that picture, and further underscores what a close-run thing the success of the Allied breakout from the Normandy landings actually was.

Scholars of Mayhem Details

TitleScholars of Mayhem
Author
ReleaseJun 4th, 2019
PublisherPenguin Press
ISBN-139780735225206
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Biography, War, World War II

Scholars of Mayhem Review

  • Peter A
    January 1, 1970
    This book, co-written by the son, tells the story of Jean Claude Guiet during his days preparing for and serving in a team of Special Operations Executive commandos in German occupied France right after D-Day. The team consisted of four members: Philippe Liewer, Violette Szabo (about whom there is a book and a movie “Carve Her Name with Pride”), Bob Maloubier, and Jen Claude Guiet. The story is told simply, yet at times conveys the tension of nearly being caught by the enemy or absorbed in a fir This book, co-written by the son, tells the story of Jean Claude Guiet during his days preparing for and serving in a team of Special Operations Executive commandos in German occupied France right after D-Day. The team consisted of four members: Philippe Liewer, Violette Szabo (about whom there is a book and a movie “Carve Her Name with Pride”), Bob Maloubier, and Jen Claude Guiet. The story is told simply, yet at times conveys the tension of nearly being caught by the enemy or absorbed in a fire-fight between the French maquisards and Germans. And at times, with some of the characters, their descriptions of the adventures almost feel like they are understating the danger they were in. As noted below, this understatement of accomplishments may be an attributed of the “Greatest Generation”.The story is told in three phases: the first roughly sets up the story of the other team members; the second talks about Jean Claude and his training and preparation for the special mission; and the final section on the operation, named Salesman II, which was intended to slow movement of German troupes from the south of France to Normandy by recruiting, organizing, arming and directly local French maquisards to disrupt the German operations. The epilogue talks of what happened after the Salesman operation. The contribution of this book is to bring forward the story of people who agreed to put their lives at risk for a greater cause. Normally, the life of the commando behind enemy lines, especially the radio expert, was about three weeks. Capture by the Germans very likely led to death. And those experiences, are often never told, both because of the agreements made and because at that age, the horrors of war were not shared. [An uncle of mine never talked about his experiences in the European theater.]As a disclaimer, I received an advanced copy of this book to read because an editor at Penguin read my review of Sonia Purnell’s “A Woman of No Importance” about Virginia Hall. It is hard to avoid comparison between the stories, since both Virginia Hall and Jean Claude Guiet served in SOE operations, and later CIA, both served in the center of France, one in/around Lyon, one in/around Limoges. Virginia Hall’s story covers more of her life, and how she overcame physical disabilities and gender biases, and how she was in France twice. As for Jean Claude’s story, what is amazing is that his son learned about this when his father was quite old, and what a revelation that must have been. Based on the epilogue, there is still more to told about Jean Claude’s life, and his strong stances on certain issues such as gender equity and the Vietnam war. Finally, both Virginia Hall and Jean Claude Guiet were forever modest (or silent) about the roles they played in the Second World War, that “Greatest Generation”, named by Tom Brokaw’s book of that title.As a final note, the Scholars of Mayhem does include interesting sections that add context about the war. These were very appreciated.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent as well as an interesting book. I enjoy reading about World War II spies and this one as well as the others was great!!! The author's father, Jean Claude Guiet was a American citizen, but born in France. He was recruited by the British SOE to set up operations behind enemy lines in France before the D Day invasion. This book tells of the training and well as the weapons used by the SOE such as daggers and the Welrod pistol, specialized with a silencer for close quarters. Many of the An excellent as well as an interesting book. I enjoy reading about World War II spies and this one as well as the others was great!!! The author's father, Jean Claude Guiet was a American citizen, but born in France. He was recruited by the British SOE to set up operations behind enemy lines in France before the D Day invasion. This book tells of the training and well as the weapons used by the SOE such as daggers and the Welrod pistol, specialized with a silencer for close quarters. Many of the agents, were captured and tortured as well as imprisoned. Many were executed. This has been a great book and tells of the risks and courage of those who served in the SOE and other spy and guerrilla agencies in World War II.
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  • Joop Debruin
    January 1, 1970
    I grew up next door to a couple, he was an American and she was French. Both were Jews. I knew he was originally in the OSS, and parachuted behind enemy lines into France, and that's where he met her. However as I got older and learn more history there were still some questions that I had about facts not lining up. Not to say their sons lied about anything, but it didn't match what I was learning about the OSS. This book clearly shows that they were both involved in the COE. In fact, I went back I grew up next door to a couple, he was an American and she was French. Both were Jews. I knew he was originally in the OSS, and parachuted behind enemy lines into France, and that's where he met her. However as I got older and learn more history there were still some questions that I had about facts not lining up. Not to say their sons lied about anything, but it didn't match what I was learning about the OSS. This book clearly shows that they were both involved in the COE. In fact, I went back to check her obituary from a few years ago, and it stated that her family moved to England to escape the Nazis, and made no mention of her behind-the-scenes activities. I'm pretty sure that I never heard about her living in England at any point. Hence the COE tie in and clarification of a few bits that I didn't understand.
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  • Max
    January 1, 1970
    Jean Claude Guiet is a real-life super hero. How could a 20 year old American go behind enemy lines during the D-Day invasion and help defeat the Nazi occupation in France? He did and with no recognition, from the France or the United States. An astonishing story about the infancy of the CIA (then the OSS) and how these brave men and women served because it was the right thing to do.
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  • PWRL
    January 1, 1970
    SM
  • Robert Mund
    January 1, 1970
    Always prefer true stories and this has the intrigue of a spy novel but at times gets bogged down in to much detail of which i have no interest
  • John Dolbee
    January 1, 1970
    Book went by very fast. A great story that I wish was expanded on even more during the war and past his involvement in Europe. Great read.
  • Milo Geyelin
    January 1, 1970
    This is first-rate reporting, historical reconstruction and writing. It’s a remarkable story, terrifically and lovingly told. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
  • Jacquie
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating story of a time when everyone seemed to want to give all. Incredible that women were not only included, but we're valued. I'm so glad Daniel was able to tell his father's story.
  • Robert Fass
    January 1, 1970
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