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Double Cross by Ben Macintyre
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Double Cross (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Ben Macintyre

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4081726,080 (3.79)61
Member:Carolinejyoung
Title:Double Cross
Authors:Ben Macintyre
Info:Bloomsbury UK (2012), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
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Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre (2012)

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Entertaining though digressive follow-up to Macintyre's "Operation Mincemeat," a wickedly ingenious deception that helped mislead the Nazis during World War II. "Double Cross" ostensibly focuses on the five people who were feeding the Germans intelligence about Allied operations, and thus were in a position to help conceal the real target of D-Day. I say ostensibly because this book not only hops around from one double agent to the other (which is itself discombobulating), but contains so many personality sketches of too many supporting characters and even devotes more time than necessary to schemes involving pigeons (yes, pigeons) and to speculations about the Germans who were conspiring to assassinate Hitler. I also thought some of Macintyre's claims about various motivations and consequences aren't necessarily borne out by the available evidence (something I've become more sensitive too after reading Jill Lepore's carefully-researched histories). Still enjoyable as long as you keep looking up who's who and taking some of the grander assertions with a grain of salt. ( )
  bostonian71 | May 11, 2015 |
Wars aren't won by military strategy alone; strategists must rely on good intelligence. This book shows exactly that. Whereas the Allies in World War II (especially British intelligence) excelled at their game, the Nazis were burdened by incompetents and in some cases even dissenters and resisters.

The Allies had the advantage almost from the beginning in that, unbeknownst to the Germans, they possessed their coding machine, the Enigma, and had broken their code. Thus, they could read every intercepted Nazi message. But the British also had engineered a great counterintelligence operation comprised of a motley set of double agents who were feeding the Germans bogus information all the way up through D-Day. By the beginning of 1944, MI-5 could state with assurance that there was not a single German spy operating in the U.K. They had identified all who had come to spy, and had either turned them or locked them away (or secretly executed them). German intelligence believed they had an active network of agents in Britain, but every single one of them was working for the Allies. (The British took advantage of this arrangement in more ways than one--in addition to the obvious strategic advantage, they allowed the spies to keep drawing their income from the Germans, thereby sparing the MI-5 budget.)

Macintyre tells the story well, bringing life to all the characters and revealing a war story with which few people are familiar. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
While the subject matter was very interesting and the five or six main spies stood on their own, the cast of supporting characters were a bit of a blur. ( )
  Bodagirl | Jan 5, 2015 |
Ben MacIntyre is a reliable teller of fascinating stories surrounding World War II and Cold War spying, especially about the British intelligence services. In Double Cross, he tells the tale of five double agents, men and women the Germans THOUGHT were spying for them but who were, in truth, spying for Britain. All five were involved in a plan to divert German resources from the true location of the D-Day invasion, saving countless lives.

Double Cross is full of “who knew?” moments. I had no idea that British intelligence agencies, because of the cracking of the Enigma code, knew about virtually all German spies before they arrived in England – and were able to neutralize them in one way or another. Many were turned into double agents. Or who knew that a single spy could weave an intricate web of false agents whom he “employed” in a disinformation campaign? We all know how difficult it is to keep ONE lie straight, but Juan Pujol Garcia was a master double agent who was able to keep dozens of plates spinning. It’s surprising how gullible the Nazis turned out to be.

I recommended Double Agent to my non-fiction group. When the discussion of Double Cross had to be cancelled, members were up in arms. They convinced the library to reschedule so we wouldn’t miss out on discussing this fascinating book, which all the members truly enjoyed.

I’ve read three other books by Ben MacIntyre and loved them all. I’m hoping he keeps on doing what he’s doing and keeping readers provided with great spy stories. ( )
  NewsieQ | Nov 17, 2014 |
Whilst I was interested to read further details about the double cross spies operational during the second world war, 'Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies' covered a lot of the same ground as 'Operation: Mincemeat' and 'A Spy mong Friends' - my fault for reading Ben Macintyre's books back to back.

I enjoyed Macintyre's descriptions of the humour of the situation, particularly Agent Garbo, who the Nazis paid handsomely to supply them with nonsense.

An enjoyable read. ( )
  cazfrancis | Sep 23, 2014 |
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Tangle within tangle, plot and counter-plot, ruse and treachery, cross and double-cross, true agent, false agent, double agent, gold and steel, the bomb, the dagger and the firing party, were interwoven in many a texture so intricate as to be incredible and yet true. - Winston Churchill
The enemy must not know where I intend to give battle. For if he does not know where I intend to give battle he must prepare in a great many places. And when he prepares in a great many places, those I have to fight in any one place will be few. And when he prepares everywhere he will be weak everywhere. - Sun Tzu
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For Callum, Pablo, Minnie, and Wilf
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(Preface) In the summer of 1943, a genteel and soft-spoken intelligence officer wearing tartan trousers and smoking a pipe put the finishing touches to a secret weapon he had been working on for more than three years.
Dusko and Johnny were friends.
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Recounts the story of the six double agents--Bronx, Brutus, Treasure, Tricycle and Garbo--who would weave a web of deception so intricate that it ensnared Hitler's army and helped to carry thousands of troops across the Channel in safety on 6 June 1944, D-Day.… (more)

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