Secret Missions

Title:                      Secret Missions

Author:                 Ellis M. Zacharias

Zacharias, Ellis M. (1946, 2003). Secret Missions: The Story of An Intelligence Officer. Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press

LCCN:    2002041096

V63.Z33 A3 2003



  • Originally published: New York: G.P. Putnam, 1946.

Date Updated:  September 16, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

Zacharias’ personal account is an indispensable record of ONI for the period he was associated with it and for the cryptologic and CI history of the prewar effort against Japan. His reminiscences are important for a number of reasons. He was one of the small band of Japanese-language students and country experts of the prewar era and a pioneer in the U.S. Navy’s small language program. Second, he belonged to the small group involved in naval intercepts and cryptanalytic work in the Pacific in the 1920s. Third, he was one of those ONI officers who formed the cadre of that organization in World War II, rising to become deputy chief. Fourth, there are few accounts of U.S. counterintelligence against the Japanese in the prewar period or of U.S. Navy psychological warfare operations against Japan in the war.

Shortcomings to be found are Zacharias’s overestimate of the Japanese intelligence threat (as well as the German) before and during the war. Some opinions and estimates of situations and people have a dated quality. But just as this is a valuable first-hand record of certain U.S. intelligence, counterintelligence, and psychological warfare operations and their organization, so it is a clear exposition of the crucial importance of intelligence and counterintelligence to a nation’s security. According to Farago’s The Broken Seal[2], he assisted Zacharias in writing this memoir, having been associated with him in the Special Warfare Branch, the secret psychological warfare unit of the U.S. Navy during the war.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[3]

Zacharias was deeply involved in U.S. Naval Intelligence operations before and during WWII. The book includes discussion of pre-WWII espionage activities and of the U.S. Navy’s psychological warfare campaign against Japan.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[4]

A personalized account of the espionage battle against Japan before and during World War II. Admiral Zacharias was one of the few officers who were trained for intelligence against Japan before World War II, through assignments as language and area students to Japan. His knowledge of Japanese enabled him to plan and conduct an effective psychological warfare campaign. Along with Mashbir’s IWas An American Spy[5], the account

of another pre-World War II Japanese language and area student, this is one of the best and most revealing books available on intelligence against Japan.

Further review by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[6]

The memoir of a naval officer who began his intelligence career as a Japanese language and area trainee in Tokyo before World War II. Rear Admiral Zacharias emphasizes the role he played in the psychological warfare campaign against the Japanese home islands, preceding their final surrender.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, p. 507

[2] Farago, Ladislas (1969). The Broken Seal: the Story of Operation Magic and the Secret Road to Pearl Harbor. London: Mayflower

[3] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature: A Critical And Annotated Bibliography of Open-Source Literature (7th ed, rev.). Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence School, p.

[4] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 71

[5] Mashbir, Sidney Forrester (1953). I Was An American Spy. New York: Vantage Press

[6] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p.



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2 Responses to Secret Missions

  1. Pingback: I Was An American Spy | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: Espionage and Counterespionage, Chapter 14 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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