Podcast Episode #4 – Cyanide Pills and Glowing Foxes with Dr. John Lisle
Researchers, engineers, and scientists with the Office of Strategic Services were given carte blanche to come up with anything and everything that might help OSS agents in the field carry out their missions of sabotage and espionage during World War II.
Led by Dr. Stanley Lovell, a chemist and inventor before the war began, OSS Research and Development devised many outstanding tools and weapons which were of great service during the war, such as the High Standard Model HD MS suppressed .22lr pistol and powdered explosive compound which was highly stable and could be mixed with bread flour, which came to be known as “Aunt Jemima”.
Wild Bill Donovan, the commander of the OSS, referred to Dr. Lovell as his “Professor Moriarty”, a reference to Sherlock Holmes’ fiendishly clever adversary. However, some of their schemes crossed the line from feasible and straightforward all the way to outlandish and nearly incomprehensible. These included a plot to spike Adolph Hitler’s personal vegetable garden with concentrated estrogen, so that as he ate his vegetables, he would gradually take on feminine characteristics.
For episode four of the Spycraft 101 podcast, I spoke with Dr. John Lisle, a researcher who has just finished his book “The Dirty Tricks Department” about some of the most incredible weapons, tools, and strategies devised by the OSS during its brief, three-year history. Dr. Lisle and I had a great time delving into this incredible and often bizarre chapter of history. I thought I knew a lot about the OSS before our discussion, but even I was amazed by his breadth of knowledge and learned about a few plots that I had never heard of before.