The Dirty Tricks Department with John Lisle

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Wednesday, April 5, 2023
12:00 PM ET
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The Dirty Tricks Department-cover

Glowing foxes. Guns disguised as pens. Exploding fishing boats. All these ingenious ideas were courtesy of the Dirty Tricks Department in World War II. But who was behind this particular branch of wartime business? And where has government backing of covert ingenuity taken us?

Join International Spy Museum Historian and Curator Dr. Andrew Hammond in conversation with historian Dr. John Lisle, author of The Dirty Tricks Department: Stanley Lovell, the OSS, and the Masterminds of World War II Secret Warfare. They’ll explore the creation of the OSS Research and Development Branch—aka the Dirty Tricks Department—and the brilliant eccentric scientists who ran it. Stanley Lovell was the head of the secret group who developed cunning and creative gadgets, ploys, and props for the CIA’s precursor. Their mission was to help bring down the enemy by any means necessary, and the R&D branch stepped up with disguises and manipulated documents for spies in the field, research into biological and chemical weapons, and experiments with truth drugs. Lisle has delved into the moral implications of the division’s work as well, and he’ll share the reverberations he perceives today from the darker aspects of secret government experimentation that began during World War II.

Following the conversation, you’ll be able to ask questions via our online platform.

Auto-generated closed captioning will be available for this program.

The Dirty Tricks Department

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The untold story of the OSS Research and Development Branch—“The Dirty Tricks Department”—and its role in World War II.