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  • Published: 1 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784743123
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $40.00

X Troop

The Secret Jewish Commandos Who Helped Defeat the Nazis

This is popular WW2 history at its heart-stopping best, fuelled by an incredible new story

During WW2, a group of Jewish refugees (intellectuals, writers, artists and athletes - most from Germany and Austria) escaped to Britain and were interned as 'enemy aliens'. In 1942, they were selected and trained to form a special unit of commandoes who would be sent back into Europe to play a significant role in the final battles against the Nazis.

Based on original archival research, interviews and a cache of newly discovered sources, this is a book brimming with camaraderie, heroism and high-octane storytelling, as it tells the dramatic story of the X-Troop men who helped to defeat the Nazis and liberate the concentration camps where their families had either been killed or imprisoned.

  • Published: 1 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784743123
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $40.00

About the author

Leah Garrett

Leah Garrett, who directs the Jewish Studies Program at Hunter College and is an Honorary Professor of History at Warwick University, has discovered a trove of materials, including diaries, letters, and pieces of memoirs crafted by X Troopers. She has also interviewed a number of their family members. Most of the men kept the English names they were given as cover, and lived out their lives in the UK after the war.

Praise for X Troop

A lively, expertly researched history of an obscure WWII unit whose heroism deserves recognition

Kirkus Review

Garrett recounts in this dramatic and deeply researched history the WWII exploits of X Troop, a British commando unit made up of Jewish refugees from Austria, Germany, and Hungary . . . Garrett folds vivid profiles of Lord Mountbatten, Lord Lovat, and other prominent military figures into the story, and skilfully draws from war diaries and interviews with surviving X Troopers. This scrupulous history shines a well-deserved spotlight on its heroic subjects

Publishers Weekly

This is Inglorious Basterds-but much better. Because it is the real story of clandestine Jewish fighters wreaking havoc against the Nazi war machine

Norman Ohler, New York Times best-selling author of Blitzed and The Bohemians

Leah Garrett's X Troop is brilliantly researched, utterly gripping history: the first full account of a remarkable group of Jewish refugees-a top-secret band of brothers-who waged war on Hitler

Alex Kershaw, New York Times best-selling author of The Longest Winter, The Bedford Boys, and The Liberator

Part history and part mystery, X-Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II tells a compelling and little known story about an improbable group of "British" soldiers who made an important contribution to the war effort. Their transformation from interned "enemy aliens" to soldiers with high security clearances is fascinating

Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Antisemitism Here and Now

Garrett's detective work is stunning, and her story-telling is masterful. This is an original account of Jewish rescue, resistance and revenge from within the Reich and at its edges, starting with the boys flight to England and ending with their brave return as they spearheaded the Allied invasion at Normandy, fought to defeat the Reich, and remained in British service to denazify Germany and Austria

Wendy Lower, author of Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Killing Fields

A masterful work. Combining the skill of a superb storyteller and the precision of a first-rate scholar, Leah Garrett's new book tells a tale - truly stranger than fiction - of Jewish youth dispatched to the safety of England by their beleaguered German-Jewish families who volunteered for some of the most perilous of all anti-Nazi missions. An extraordinary portrait of heroism, of human decency amid horror.

Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History

This is the best kind of history: highly original, deeply researched, beautifully written, with more than a touch of personal pathos. The men of X Troop went from stateless refugees of Nazi oppression to highly trained British special operations soldiers whose courageous actions did much to hasten Hitler's demise. Kudos to Leah Garrett for telling their amazing story with the authority of a scholar and the immediacy of a novelist!

John C. McManus, author of Fire and Fortitude: The U.S. Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943

Impeccable research gives the bravest of the brave the limelight they deserve

Ian Dear, author of Ten Commando

X Troop reads like a page-turning thriller. Cinematic in their scope and rich description, these are the heretofore unknown stories of young European Jewish emigres clawing their way out of Nazi-occupied Europe and finding refuge in the UK, only to be interned as enemy aliens in horrific camps in Canada and Australia, before being recruited by Churchill and Lord Mountbatten for their brains, brawn, languages, and anti-Nazi zeal. In Garrett's brilliant telling, based on original interviews and deep-dive archival research, their return to the continent as elite Allied super-commandos is both heart-stopping and heart-breaking

James Young, Founding Director Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies and author of The Stages of Memory

This dramatic, previously untold story of extraordinary covert valor and victory takes readers all across the European front, culminating in the shock of the Terezin concentration camp. This tale of profoundly motivated and capable men of action on a noble mission, each profiled in condensed biographies, is a rousing and redefining portrait of an, until now, overlooked group of dedicated warriors who played an outsized role in defeating the Third Reich. Garrett has added a crucial chapter to the always relevant and ever-deepening history of WWII and the Holocaust


Reading Garrett's fluent and engaging account should make anyone tempted to feel jingoistic about Britain during the Second World War think twice

Richard Overy, Literary Review

A compelling read . . . Garrett's evocation of the tension and drama of the many clandestine operations in Europe undertaken by X-Troopers is gripping

Sydney Morning Herald

Thrilling . . . X Troop stands as a fitting testament to a unique band of brothers

Nathan Abrams, Nation Cymru

Based on declassified military records, wartime diaries, and interviews with commandos and their families, X Troop vividly charts the special unit's missions, from storming Pegasus Bridge on D-Day to successfully liberating a trooper's parents' from the Theresienstadt concentration camp to capturing escaped Nazis after the war

Smithsonian Magazine

The page-turning account is replete with heretofore unknown astounding feats thanks to the author's success in declassifying long-sealed, top-secret British military records . . . Garrett's excellent new book corrects the record by fully recounting the X Troopers' exploits and accurately reflecting who they were

Renee Ghert-Zand, The Times of Israel


Jenni Frazer, Jewish Chronicle

A thrilling, stirring story, well told

Anne De Courcy, Daily Telegraph

X Troop is the fiercest British Second World War commando unit you have likely never heard of... The page-turning account is replete with astounding feats that were unknown until now, thanks to the author's success in declassifying long-sealed, top-secret British military records... [Garrett's] experience researching and writing vividly about combat shines through in X Troop

Renee Ghert-Zand, Jewish News

[A] thrilling story

Daily Telegraph, *Summer Reads of 2021*

Garrett is to be commended for bringing to life this little-known tale of extraordinary wartime heroism by this group of Jewish refugees in the service of Britain

History of War

Gripping... Garrett's chief strength is her ability to relight the lamps of the past so that they glow anew

James Owen, The Times

Vivid and starkly unsentimental... X Troop is a gripping story of Jewish courage and empowerment in the midst of darkness and sorrow

Jewish Review of Books