Winston Churchill's Toyshop: The Invention and Making of England's

Secret Weapons by Stuart Macrae documents the history of England's most

famous secret weapons development facility. In truth, this book is based entirely

on fact. All of the information given comes strait out of the author's diary, files,

and records that he had collected during the years he was involved with the

Department M.D.1. I was not until many years after the writing of this book that

the British government realized that the author had so much of this confidential

information and confiscated many of his files and records.

At any rate, the book starts off with how the Department M.D.1 was

created and how the author became involved in the weapons development

business. Once the department got off the ground, dozens of secret weapons,

which were to be used in top secret and covert operations during both World

War I and II, were invented, deployed, and used all over the world by not only

British soldiers but by soldiers in almost all the allied countries including the US.

The weapons were very crude at first, but as the years progressed the weapons

became more and more sophisticated. For instance, such a crude material as

Alka-Seltzer was used as a delaying device in an underwater bomb, nicknamed

"the Limpet." Despite crude beginnings, the weapons soon developed into things

like pressure sensitive bomb triggers used to derail any type of train or to blow

up oncoming tanks or vehicles. One of the most impressive devices to come out

of the Department M.D.1 although it was not a weapon was a mobile, collapsible

bridge that could be deployed anywhere to get any vehicle across a body of

water no more than sixty feet across.

Importance to History

I believe that the true story told in this book is important to history

because it displays the creativeness and inventiveness of human beings through

the making of these deadly but inventive weapons. Someone else might think

this book is important to history because it captures the culture of England

during the early twentieth century.

Critical Review

Although this book was often monotonous during its sections of

extremely detailed descriptions on the development of the weapons, this book

was rather interesting. I liked how it combined the seriousness of non-fiction

but also added a hint of comic relief now and then with mild sarcasm and flat

out government satire. Overall, I thought the book was not exactly best seller

material but do not worry it will not have the same effect as sleeping pill.