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The riveting story of the American scientists, tinkerers, and nerds who solved one of the biggest puzzles of World War II—and developed one of the most powerful weapons of the war
12 Seconds of Silence is the remarkable, lost story of how a ragtag group of American scientists overcame one of the toughest problems of World War II: shooting things out of the sky.
Working in a secretive organization known as Section T, a team of physicists, engineers, and everyday Joes and Janes took on a devilish challenge. To help the Allies knock airplanes out of the air, they created one of the world’s first “smart weapons.” Against overwhelming odds and in a race against time, mustering every scrap of resource, ingenuity, and insight, the scientists of Section T would eventually save countless lives, rescue the city of London from the onslaught of a Nazi superweapon, and help bring about the Axis defeat. A holy grail sought after by Allied and Axis powers alike, their unlikely innovation ranks with the atomic bomb as one of the most revolutionary technologies of the Second World War. Until now, their tale was largely untold.
For fans of Erik Larson and Ben Macintyre, set amidst the fog of espionage, dueling spies, and the dawn of an age when science would determine the fate of the world, 12 Seconds of Silence is a tribute to the extraordinary wartime mobilization of American science and the ultimate can-do story.
About the Author
JAMIE HOLMES is a writer living in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in print or online in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, the Christian Science Monitor, the New Republic, the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, USA Today, and the Daily Beast. His first book was Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing.
“The story of the first ‘smart’ weapon…Holmes is a meticulous historian...fascinating...with an exciting finale.”—Kirkus
“…rousing and carefully researched…Holmes maintains a brisk pace, highlighting the human drama...This entertaining chronicle rescues a tale of American wartime ingenuity from obscurity.”—Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating account of the evolving specter of war, replete with biographies of important figures who may not have been world leaders, but whose work altered it forever. ”—Booklist
“Meticulously researched and well-written…a prescient reminder of the role of science in both power and peace…. The tight pace and crisp narrative of the book is consistently engaging. Holmes has a wonderful eye for realistic detail…an impressive and necessary monument to the spirit and sacrifice of the Americans whose innovation proved so imperative in winning the Second World War.”—Andrew Roberts, AirMail
“Perhaps the greatest praise I can offer as an author is to admit to wishing that I had written this book myself. Jamie Holmes takes an arcane chapter of World War II science and reveals it to be a story full of drama and intrigue, an engrossing narrative that keeps you turning pages . . . Holmes’s storytelling is exquisite. Absolutely superb.” — Gregory A. Freeman, bestselling author of The Forgotten 500
and Sailors to the End
“A tale of science, spycraft, and ingenuity—a ripping yarn from start to finish.” — Larrie D. Ferreiro, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Brothers at Arms
“Holmes writes like a dream . . . it all unfolds with the pace of a thriller.” — Peter Bergen, New York Times
bestselling author of Manhunt
and Trump and His Generals
"In his eye-opening marvel of a book, Jamie Holmes reveals the fascinating story of the humble proximity fuse. It turns out to be not so humble, but rather a mighty war-winner and soldier-saver—and all thanks to an eccentric and eclectic band of tinkerers, hobbyists, and geeks who overcame enormous obstacles to turn what was once science fiction into a reality.”—Alexander Rose, New York Times
bestselling author of Washington’s Spies
and Empires of the Sky
“Holmes vividly demonstrates what American military leaders knew well by the close of World War II: the atomic bomb ended the war, but the proximity fuse won it.” — G. Pascal Zachary, author of Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century