Second World War (WW2) Books
Published in association with Imperial War Museums, this book is packed with tales of courage, heartbreak and humour set against the Spitfire's extraordinary history.
- RRP £16.99
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Based on documents, letters, stories, photographs and articles from the museum's archives, it also uses interviews with designers, engineers, mechanics, ground staff and pilots to explain how this magnificent flying machine helped Britain to victory.
The most famous plane of World War II and a source of national pride, the Spitfire is one of the most iconic aviation images of all time. This book celebrates the achievements of the people in charge of these planes.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera reveals the story of MI14 and the Secret Pigeon Service during the Second World War for the first time in this compelling read.
- RRP £20.00
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Using extensive original research and declassified documents, he reveals the inner workings of 'Columba' - an operation that saw 16,000 plucky homing pigeons dropped in an arc from Bourdeaux to Copenhagen in an effort to bring back intelligence from those living under Nazi occupation.
The messages came flooding back from France, the Netherlands and Belgium - all written on tiny pieces of rice paper that has been tucked into canisters and tied to the legs of the birds - and these authentic missives ranged from the comic to the tragic and occasionally invaluable, giving the British Intelligence advance notice of German troop movements, weapons and more.
Corera also looks at the people behind this mission, not many of whom were trained agents or experienced in spying. He focuses in particular on the Leopold Vindictive network, a small group of Belgian villagers - led by priest Joseph Raskin - who were always prepared to risk everything. This is a powerful and tragic tale of wartime espionage that looks at a quirky and quarrelsome band of spy masters and their unique operations.
Social historian Julie Summers looks over the period during the Second World War when thousands of families had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave everything they knew and start a new life in a location where Hitler's Luftwaffe could not reach them - and the role Britain's country houses had to play in this.
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Based on extensive research and interviews, Julie conveys the problems these families faced during the early years of the conflict and examines the locations that they were sent to. She also looks at the problems and social stigmas they had to face and overcome in each different area.
This hardback shines a light on a previously untold story from the Second World War. It looks at how people from all walks of life found themselves in these most esteemed surroundings and how the juxtaposition of splendour and opulence was at odds with their temporary residents' needs.
From the Dambusters bombing raid to the story that inspired the classic film, The Great Escape, this collection is full of fascinating reads for anyone interested in military history.
- RRP £49.95
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- Just £1.80 per book
With five books to read through, it will provide hours of reading. The Battle for the Code is the story of how the German Enigma codes were broken (as seen in the Benedict Cumberbatch film The Imitation Game); Ill Met by Moonlight is an adventure story about how the Special Forces kidnapped the General of Crete; and The Great Escape is the story of a mass escape from a WWII German PoW camp.
This collection also includes Wings on My Sleeve, test pilot Eric Brown's autobiography; and The Dambusters Raid, a definitive account of the most audacious bombing raid of the Second World War.
A companion to the brilliant Channel 4 series of the same name, The Freedom Trails: Escaping Hitler tells the incredible story of some of the brave individuals who managed to escape Nazi Germany.
- RRP £20.00
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Over 5,000 British, Commonwealth and American servicemen made the journey over the Pyrenees, the Slovenian mountains and the Italian alps and many died en route. However, the brave men and women of the resistance still managed to defy the odds and keep the routes open.
Among those you'll read about are Blondie Haslar, the leader of the Cockleshell Heroes, US airman Chuck Yaeger (whose story was retold in The Right Stuff) and Andree de Jongh, a young woman who risked her life to smuggle men through occupied France and survived being sent to two concentration camps.
Based on in-depth research and interviews with survivors as well as his own experiences walking the trails, broadcaster and former Royal Marine Monty Halls book is dramatic and gripping from first page to last.
Nicholas Rankin, the bestselling author of Churchill's Wizards, examines how Gibraltar - a lone outpost of the British Empire, riddled with tunnels, spies and secrets - managed to hold off attacks by land, sea and air to help the Allies win the Second World War.
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Two months before his death, Adolf Hitler realised where it had gone wrong - he failed to seize Gibraltar in 1940. A pillar of British sea power since 1704, the Rock of Gibraltar looked formidable but was also very vulnerable.
Gibraltar was menaced on all sides by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain and had to let thousands of people cross its frontier to work every day - many of whom were eager to blow up its 25 miles of secret tunnels.
Eventually in 1942, Gibraltar became US General Eisenhower's HQ for the invasion of North Africa and it was this campaign that led to the Allies' victory. This revelatory book features the likes of Haile Selassie, Anthony Burgess and General Sikorsi and sets Gibraltar in the wider context of the struggle against fascism. It also covers its role in the Spanish Civil War and its people's rise to independence.
Historian Nicholas Shakespeare reveals how Winston Churchill almost didn't become prime minister following the fall of Neville Chamberlain's government in May, 1940...
- RRP £20.00
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Showing how easily events could have gone in a different direction, this biography explains how Churchill was to blame for a disastrous battle in Norway before then going on to rise to the most powerful post in the country just weeks later.
Based on fascinating new research that delves deep into the backgrounds of all the key players in the government during World War II, this book offers a new perspective on Churchill's election and leadership (as well as the personal issues that appeared) while also covering the dramatic action that took place on the battlefield in Norway.
With cross-section drawings taken direct from the official Flight and The Aeroplane archives, Classic World War II: Aircraft Cutaways is a must for anyone interested in history and aeronautical engineering.
- RRP £19.99
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Alongside each of the illustrations is some detailed text for each type of aircraft. It covers the history and evaluates the drawing. There are even 12 vehicles displayed on pull-out, double-page gatefolds!
Telling you everything you could ever want to know about the planes that flew during the Second World War, this keepsake book also features archive photography Aeroplane Montly.
The Bletchley Park recruiters devised various ingenious mind-twisters to help recruit the best code breakers around during World War II.
- RRP £12.99
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This book gives you the chance to tackle some of these puzzles given to these applicants and see if you'd have made the grade during this era. From hidden codes to cryptic crosswords, secret languages and complex riddles, they touch on a range of subjects.
The codebreakers were united in their love of a good puzzle, and this book gives you the chance to also put your mental agility to the test. The questions are tough but oh-so-satisfying to crack.
On 8 November, 1923, Adolf Hitler stormed into a beer hall in Munich, fired his pistol in the air and declared the start of a revolution.
- RRP £25.00
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Seventeen hours later and he was on the run from the police, with his career seemingly in tatters. All that remained of his bold move was a trail of destruction... Written by historian David King, this is the true story of the monumental criminal proceeding that followed as Hitler and nine other suspects were charged with high treason.
While reporters from all over the world came to witness the trial, things clicked into place for Hitler and he ended up hailing the fiasco of the beer hall putsch as a victory for the fledgling Nazi Party. This trial thrust Hitler into the limelight and provided him and set him on his journey to power.
Using trial transcripts, police files and a host of sources, including 500 documents recently discovered from the Landsberg Prison record office, King's The Trial of Adolf Hitler explains how this failure of the justice system changed the world forever.
If you've ever wondered who fired the first British shot of the First World War, how low the Dambusters flew or just how many ships were sunk at Pearl Harbor, these two books will provide the answers.
- RRP £19.98
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- Just £2.50 per book
Compiled and written by Norman Ferguson, the miscellanies tell the stories of the battles, aircraft, weapons, soldiers, heroes and enemies of both world wars, while also presenting these tales in accessible, bite-sized chunks. Among the events covered in the First World War are the downing of the Red Baron and the first WWI soldier to receive the Victoria Cross...
The book based around the Second World War tells the stories of the Battle of Britain, the Siege of Leningrad, the horrors of the Holocaust and the D-Day landings... Compelling throughout, the books also contain a startling number of facts and figures to dip into.
Published in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum, this three-book collection brings together a fascinating and authoritative social history of the Second World War.
- RRP £24.97
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- Just £1.66 per book
A Prayer for Gallipoli covers the Great War from the point of view of a chaplain. Kenneth Best had no military training, so to fulfil his pastoral role, he had to get close to the front line and work with troops as they were under fire. As his empathy for the troops grew larger, he became more and more disgusted with their leaders. These diaries provide an insight into the horrific realities of trench warfare.
The Secret History of the Blitz by Joshua Levine looks at the people that are not normally mentioned during accounts of the War - those spivs, outcasts and unsung heroes who were in the shadows; and D-Day to Victory features the diaries of a British tank commander as the war finally came to an end.
All written using archive and primary sources, these are candid and compelling reads about the triumphs and tragedies of war.
A very poignant and powerful book, Maps of War is a visual survey of how conflict was recorded and planned. It uses archive maps to reveal how warfare and documentation has changed through the centuries.
- RRP £30.00
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Covering the history of military mapping, the book looks at beginning and what impact the invention of printing and introduction of gunpowder had. In the 17th century, military commanders and strategists started to document wars by way of illustration.
In the 18th century, they started to use maps to chart progress. This chapter reflects the spread of European power and transoceanic conflict and focuses on the American war of Independence. The book then moves on to the 19th and 20th centuries, covering everything from the American Civil War to the World War, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars.
Tigers in Combat Vol 3 closes the gap between the unit histories of volumes 1 and 2 and the technical descriptions in the Jentz and Spielberger books. For the first time, efforts are described in detail of what was taken to create units and what was required to keep the Tiger tank in action regarding handling and operating the vehicle. Other chapters deal with crew training and specific tactical aspects to employ such a heavy tank under all fighting conditions. Further aspects are covered, such as the protection level of the Tiger and reasons for losses - as well as propaganda work with this famous beast. Due to the usage of more than 1,200 photos and drawings, even complex crew tasks and procedures are illustrated in a way that non-Tiger crewmen will be able to comprehend.
- RRP £69.95
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Since it was first published in 1989, Men of the Battle of Britain has become a standard reference book for academics and researchers interested in the Battle of Britain. Copies are also owned by many with purely an armchair interest in the events of 1940. The book records the service details of the airmen who took part in the Battle of Britain in considerable detail. Where known, postings and their dates are included, as well as promotions, decorations and successes claimed flying against the enemy. There is also much personal detail, often including dates and places of birth, civilian occupations, dates of death and place of burial or, for those with no known grave, place of commemoration. There are many wartime head-and-shoulders photographs. Inevitably the high achievers who survived tend to have the longest entries, but those who were killed very quickly, sometimes even on their first sortie, are given equal status. The 2015 third edition will include new names and corrected spellings, as well as many new photographs. Plenty of the entries have been extended with freshly acquired information.The stated nationalities of some of the airmen have been re-examined and, for example, one man always considered to be Australian is now known to have been Irish.
- RRP £60.00
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'In "Totenkopf" volume II Mark C. Yerger begins with a lengthy chapter on the SS officer and Waffen-SS combat arms schools. Especially relevant to the earliest divisions, many "Totenkopf" officers were trained by this system with divisional veterans found serving with their ever-changing faculties. Starting with the prewar Junkerschulen and their expansion, both the wartime created academies are included. Overlooked despite their significance, the arms schools that produced SS officers among their variety of specialist training programs from mid-1942 to nearly the end of hostilities are detailed. Facilities examined include the SS-Pionierschule "Hradsichko," SS-Panzergrenadierschule "Kienschlag," SS-Artillerieschule II, SS-Nachrichtenschule, and the assault gun school in Bukowan that became the SS-Panzerjager(Sturmgeschutz)Schule "Janowitz." The final 53 German Cross in Gold recipients are examined next with unpublished details for all ranks. Among them are men also awarded the Knight's Cross, material being included from the personal photo albums of two such officer recipients with dozens of other new images along with over 30 proposal texts relating the combats resulting in these decorations. A chapter examines those entered in the Roll of Honor (later Honor Clasp holders), including narratives resulting in that distinction. With the most of any Waffen-SS division, the 33 Close Combat Clasp in Gold holders are detailed. A lengthy chapter on the formation preparing for Russia opens with text details on its essential but often overlooked support units. The March-April 1941 transfers and final component are added, in total showing all divisional command and staff personnel. Men found elsewhere are noted, with priority service specifics given for nearly 250 more officers of the division. That data includes specifics of officer school graduates, reflecting on the stated significance of the opening chapter. Rather than faceless statistics, the massive casualties in 1941-1942 that comprised individuals becomes humanly grasped as was the continued tenacity of the division in Demjansk despite those losses. Order of Battle charts are compared to actual composition of the division. An addendum adds to volume I with an index for the nearly 800 personnel within this volume. Lavishly illustrated with primarily unpublished photographs in larger size, other images that have been seen were traced to original prints and negatives for previously unseen reproductive clarity. Appendix, glossary and bibliography. 367 pages, 230 illustrations.
- RRP £59.95
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Seventy years have passed since the Second World War yet the books and articles still keep coming in a never-ending stream discussing the question of what role the deliveries of arms and materials by Soviet allies played in the victory of the Red Army. In Russia, the American Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter along with the Studebaker US6 truck and canned stewed meat became the symbols of Allied help to the USSR during the Second World War. Other aircraft which arrived to the country under the Lend-Lease program are less known but also made a valuable contribution to the victory. The author of this book for the first time has assembled a huge volume of information related to the delivery of aviation equipment from UK and USA. Based on documents from Russian and foreign archives, museums, and veterans' recollections, the author has made a qualitative and quantitative appraisal of the influence of these deliveries upon the Soviet war effort and airpower during the conflict. The book details the routes of the aircraft deliveries to Russia, the modifications which were done in order to suit the demands of the Russian climate and specifics of their front-line use, as well as the process of the new aircraft being mastered by the units of the Red Army Air Force. The first foreign aircraft arrived in the Soviet Union with No. 151 Wing RAF in 1941, and their use expanded rapidly - they took part in the counteroffensive near Moscow, the battles for Stalingrad and the Kursk salient, and operations of the war up to the battle for Berlin and the capitulation of Japanese forces in the North China. The author includes the results of the combat assessments of the aircraft, which were done at the Scientific Testing Institute of the Air Force, as well as reports from front-line regiments, and multiple combat episodes, detailing the views of the Soviet designers and pilots on the British and American aircraft. A separate chapter provides information about the aircraft which were not officially delivered but appeared in the Soviet Union accidentally. For the first time an attempt has been made to assess the influence of the deliveries of material and equipment upon the Soviet aviation industry and war effort. The author's impressive text is supported by nearly 700 colour and b/w photographs, 100 colour aircraft profiles, plus maps, charts etc.
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Honoring Those They Led examines specific points and groups within a massive subject; Commanding Generals of WW II German field commands with those primarily studied being among those presented one or more of their highest combat decorations by Adolf Hitler. A lengthy opening chapter provides in-depth details on a diversity of subjects including specifics of the five senior ranks of the German Army, from Generalmajor to Generalfeldmarschall, that combined totaled some 2,000 officers. Information along with privately owned award documents are shown to fully understand the process and granting of Germany's highest awards for bravery or leadership; the Knight's Cross, German Cross in Gold, and Roll of Honor Clasp. Other topics include the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, Oberkommando des Heeres, Generalstabes des Heeres, and their key personnel. Changes in command level responsibilities as the war progressed as a result of Hitler's appointments and operational planning are discussed. Encompassing all senior ranks, examples within the chapter include those from the largest group; officers who attained General rank after the war started with focus on those awarded one or more of their highest decorations for their initial command. Chapters follow on the primary advisors to field commanders; the First Staff Officers and Chiefs of Staff of higher commands. Then the presenting of awards by field commanders is discussed and the wartime status of recipients including numerous images of a field presentation of the Knight's Cross. Representing the countries allied with Germany; the decorated Spanish commanders of the 250.Infanterie Division are then detailed. With careers that include commands from Division to Heeresgruppe, 34 field commanders are then examined in individual chapters. All were recipients of the Oakleaves, Swords, or Diamonds to the Knight's Cross with visual details included of one or more of their award presentations by Hitler. With detailed military service specifics presented in this oversized-format volume, the data begins at the start of their lengthy military careers. Many joined the Army before WW I and saw combat in the Great War before serving with the Reichswehr that became the Wehrmacht on May 21, 1935. Details include assignments and units with their development, decorations, promotions, predecessors and successors. The information is enhanced with primarily previously unpublished images including autographed photos and award documents given to or signed by them. Among the material included are all the award and promotion documents from both World Wars given to a divisional commander of "Grossdeutschland." These nearly three dozen General ranks range from famous names to more obscure commanders who had significant impact in the field, their skills frequently resulting in being appointed as successors to more well-known officers in command appointments as the war progressed. A Gallery chapter concludes the volume, incorporating images and documents of personnel related to the various categories of the study that were not incorporated with the study. A wealth of information for both history readers and collectors. Glossary, bibliography, and name index for finding entries pertaining to more than 300 command personnel.
- RRP £59.95
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The book Danish Volunteers of the Waffen-SS tells the story of Freikorps Danmark in pictures from 1941-1943. Freikorps Danmark was established as a Danish corps which had to fight communism and, from its beginning, it was controlled from Denmark and put under the control of the SS-Division Totenkopf and 1. SS-Brigade during its efforts on the Eastern Front. It was a relatively small corps, which almost entirely consisted of Danish volunteers; during their two efforts on the Eastern Front, they suffered heavy casualties. In 1943, the High Command of Waffen-SS decided to abolish Freikorps Danmark and the personnel had to enter a new German division, which was directly controlled by Waffen-SS. The source of material for this book has been gathered from the photo collections of the old volunteers, which means that many of the photos have never been seen before.
- RRP £59.95
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The second in this two-volume series will provide aviation historians with an exhaustive reference work on all the Luftwaffe's dive-bomber and ground-attack units, including information on operations. All 16 Stuka Geschwader, 17 ground-attack and 20 night-harassment units are covered along with their component staff flights and Gruppen and specialist anti-tank units. The two volumes are divided into the early and late phases of the war, and cover pre-war formation, designation and reorganisation until the demise of the Luftwaffe, with lists of key operations, locations, bases and transfers together with an exhaustive breakdown of theatres of operations, key battles and missions flown and aircraft types that were flown by each unit. In addition there are detailed listings of unit commanders including dates and locations of the commands. This informative volume is also packed with illustrations showing aircraft types, unit markings, close ups of unit emblems and badges and commanders, many of which are in colour and have never been seen before. These books are the product of many years research by the authors, both of whom are highly respected experts in this field, and present highly detailed information in this form for the first time.
- RRP £55.00
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With 158 victories under his belt and dying in the Egyptian sky on the 30th of September, 1942, aged only 22, Hans-Joachim Marseille became a legend of the World War II aviation. Besides his being an exceptional pilot, he owes his reputation to his unconventionality and aversion to authority, which caused him much trouble with his superiors; his chivalrous attitude, moreover, led him to return to his base with a wounded enemy or a damaged plane on several occasions. This behaviour and his formidable combat skills made him famous in Germany as well as among allied pilots, who both respected and feared him. Having collected testimonies from veterans who experienced Marseille, American authors Colin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis wrote an extremely well-documented biography that traces the short but intense life of this unique aviator, who entered the Hall of Fame or fighter pilots at only 22 years old.
- RRP £54.00
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It is now more than 40 years since "Fighters over the Desert" was published, and nearly as long since this was followed by "Fighters over Tunisia". Both volumes have long been out of print and collectors' items, but, despite much prompting, Christopher Shores has resolutely refused to permit their reprinting until he amassed so much more information. He has also long nursed a desire to expand the coverage to encompass the operations of the other types of aircraft involved in this interesting and important theatre of war - the bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and maritime units. Further, it is his intention to extend the period covered to include the later operations over Sicily, Italy, the Aegean area, the Balkans and Southern Europe. This then represents the first volume of a seminal series dealing with all these aspects and areas, which will also tie in with the earlier 'Grub Street' volumes which he and his collaborators have produced. Thus a full coverage of all aspects of aerial operations throughout the whole of the Mediterranean area will be the ultimate result. Further, these volumes will link appropriately and directly with his other works of this nature, dealing both with the Far East and the war in Europe. Readers will then be able to follow the wartime careers of units and personnel involved from volume to volume throughout the war. Operations directly over the main battlefronts will be dealt with as previously, on a daily basis. However, to allow a clearer view to be obtained of operations elsewhere in the theatre, or of a different nature, separate chapters will deal specifically with the night bombers, the air defence of the base areas, and the naval co-operation activities. Wide use of maps will be made throughout this and subsequent volumes together with a considerable number of photographs integrated into the text. Long awaited by many, if any work can be said to be comprehensive and definitive, this is it.
- RRP £50.00
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The third volume in this series returns to November 1942 to explain the background to the first major Anglo-American venture Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. It deals with the fratricidal combats which followed the initial landings in Morocco and Algeria for several days. It then considers the efforts made unsuccessfully in the event to reach northern Tunisia before the Germans and Italians could get there to forestall the possibility of an attack from the west on the rear of the Afrika Korps forces, then beginning their retreat from El Alamein. The six months of hard fighting which followed as the Allies built up the strength of their joint air forces andgradually wrested control of the skies from the Axis, are covered in detail. Then from 1 April 1943 the continuing story of the Western Desert Air Force is told from thepoint at which Volume 2 ended, as it advanced from the east to join hands with the units in the west. Now also described are the arrivals over the front of American pilots and crew, the P-38 Lightning, the Spitfire IX and the B-17 Flying Fortress and of the much-feared Focke-Wulf FW 190. The aerial activities over Tunisia became one of the focal turning points of World War II, yet this is frequently overlooked by historians. As before, the air-sea activities, the reconnaissance flights and the growing day and night bomber offensives form a major part of this volume. The mastery of the whole African coastline of the southern Mediterranean by the Allies prepared the way for the invasions of the European territories on the other side of this critical sea during 1943, which will be dealt with in Volume 4."
- RRP £50.00
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Short Stirling: Queen of the Skies is dedicated to the RAF's first four-engine heavy bomber and is the culmination of an incredible 30 years' comprehensive research. Illustrated with largely unpublished wartime photographs, it describes the design, construction and factories where Stirlings were produced. The men and women who built them relate their stories and the aircrews give their personal accounts of operating the Stirling. A chapter is devoted to the training of aircrews and flying the Stirling is described in detail. Not forgotten is the work of RAF ground crews and maintenance units, often working outdoors in sub-zero conditions. Then there are the civilian men and women who undertook repairs; little adulation was given for the vital work they achieved in rebuilding battle-damaged Stirlings. The final transport version of the Stirling is featured both in its RAF and post-war civilian role and how it went full circle to become a bomber once more in the hands of the Egyptian Air Force.
- RRP £50.00
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