A Most Enigmatic War

R.V. Jones and the Genesis of British Scientific Intelligence 1939-45

James Goodchild

Reassesses WWII scientific intelligence through a meticulous critique of the wartime papers and memoirs of its key protagonist, R.V. Jones.
Date Published :
January 2018
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
23 ills/photos, 13 diags, 3 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781911512554
Pages : 658
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


The history of scientific intelligence – its birth, its importance during the Second World War and its unique wartime qualities – has relied almost entirely on the memories of its pioneer, R.V. Jones. Through scrutiny of Jones’ postwar literature (especially his war memoirs, entitled Most Secret War; his archival papers - as well as those of his colleagues and contemporaries - and other mediums he used to promote his account of scientific intelligence), this groundbreaking book constitutes a critique of the genesis of scientific and technical intelligence. Examining chronologically all of the key events Jones became famous for – the Battle of the Beams, the Bruneval Raid, the Radio War, the Battle of the V-Weapons – and comparing Jones’ account of these (and many other) events with contemporary documentation, this book provides a rich understanding of the internal machinations within the British wartime air scientific intelligence organization defined as ADI (Science) and their relationships with the many other political, military and intelligence sections that pursued similar and often closely linked quests. This book importantly connects science and technology with the collection and collation of intelligence; is an analysis of wartime intelligence of a scientific and technical nature; argues that scientific intelligence was much more than one man’s accomplishments, which involved many more individuals and organizations than has been perceived; and was much more crucial to the development of 20th century history than has been portrayed.

About The Author

James Goodchild was awarded his doctorate in Modern History at the University of Exeter in May 2013. During his studies in Devon, he taught Modern History at both the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth. His research interests and subsequent peer-reviewed article publications have explored the 20th century inter-relationship between science, intelligence, war and the State. He is currently teaching Modern History at a reputable sixth form college in Yorkshire, and is also in the process of completing his second book on the scientific and technological developments of the First World War.


“Shining a light on a hitherto neglected area of the Second World War, that of the role of Scientific Intelligence, it is a substantial contribution to the history of that period. As such, it comes highly recommend.”

- Army Rumour Service

"This book is not just recommended for those with an interest in the secret intelligence and scientific war. It is essential…James Goodchild has certainly produced a definitive work which is also a masterpiece." - Winner of the Britain at War Book of the Month Award for June 2018.

- Britain at War Magazine

“ … this work deserves to be read in detail by everyone concerned with the history of Allied Scientific Intelligence in World War 2 – the work James Goodchild has done in setting straight the story of the V-Weapons would alone have been worth the book, and there is much, much more besides ... An essential book both to read and to study – buy it!”

- e-Defence Electronics Newsletter

More from this publisher