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Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Ben Macintyre

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3591330,295 (3.78)53
Member:ctahmase
Title:Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies
Authors:Ben Macintyre
Info:Crown (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Read in 2012, WWII

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Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre (2012)

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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 |
Seventy years ago, the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy and began the campaign to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe. Many circumstances contributed to the success of the D-Day invasion, but one of the most important factors was the campaign of disinformation being fed to the Germans by a network of double agents whose sole purpose was to convince the Abwehr that the Allies would be landing at Calais rather than Normandy. Had these agents failed, the Germans would have concentrated their forces at Normandy, most likely stopping the Allied invasion in its tracks. This book tells the stories of the individual double agents involved in this task, including Serbian playboy Dusko Popov ("Tricycle"), Peruvian socialite Elvira Chaudoir ("Bronx"), and Polish nationalist Roman Czerniawski ("Valentine"). Ultimately, Macintyre makes a convincing case for the proposition that the Allies would never have won the war on the battlefields had they not already won the intelligence war.

This book gives a wealth of fascinating detail about the six men and women who acted as double agents in Britain, allegedly spying for Germany but really working for the Allies. I was shocked to learn that British intelligence had actually discovered and turned every German agent in Britain at the time! Because of this, the Allies were able to present a unified message to the Germans, subtlely directing their attention away from Normandy and toward other possible invasion sites. Some of the specific stories in the book prove once again that truth is stranger than fiction: for example, Dusko Popov thrived on creating networks of sub-agents that were entirely fictional, yet he retained the Abwehr's complete trust. I also loved the fact that these double agents were handled in Britain by the Twenty Committee, so named because the Roman numeral for 20 is XX, or "double cross." In short, if you're interested in true stories of WWII-era espionage, Ben Macintyre is your man!
  christina_reads | Jun 26, 2014 |
Excellent read! The material is so thoroughly researched and still so well told. You forget it's true because it reads like a fascinating story. Great book, and definitely not the sort of thing I usually pick up. Thrilling for all. ( )
  Alliebadger | May 28, 2014 |
Feeling at a remove from the world of WWII-era black-and-white photos, kids these days might complacently feel the results of that vast conflict were a foregone conclusion. In truth, the Allied victory was not certain. Those same kids (if their forebears were not annihilated) came very close to speaking German and celebrating Adolph Hitler Day. To win the war, the Allied forces had to land in Northern Europe. We knew it and the Germans knew it. The big question was where the assault would take place. If the Germans guessed right, they could mass their forces in the right place and hold off the Allies. If not, the Allies would gain a foothold to work their way to Berlin.

Ben McIntyre's Double Cross recounts the remarkable stories of a group of double agents working out of England. The Germans believed they were spying for them. In reality, they were part of an imaginative and calculated espionage effort out of England. This motley group of men and women busily provided disinformation, harmless true information and true yet untimely intelligence -- all in the effort to confuse the Axis powers. Their supreme efforts convinced Germany the Northern European assault would take place far from the beaches of Normandy.

Who were these people? What motivated them to become double agents? How did they pull off this enormous hoax? Based upon newly declassified and released records McIntyre tells a walloping good tale about a little known yet critically important part of the war effort. ( )
  michigantrumpet | May 17, 2014 |
Operation Fortitude, the British plan to keep the Germans from knowing their exact plans for D-Day and the storming of Normandy could not have been as successfully executed without the stable of double cross spies and their British spymasters.

In his inimitable style, Ben McIntyre offers us a window into the minds of the some of the most creative military strategists on British soil. He offers us character studies into the heroic and indomitable spirits behind the Anti-Nazi men and women who had to keep their covers under dangerous situations, preventing their double identity being discovered by the Germans. The author also takes into the evaluation process of considering the suitability of converting German spies as double agents, why some are accepted and the characteristics that make others a bigger risk or completely unsuitable.

It's not all nerve-wrecking tension in the book though. There are some moments of levity, such as the chapter where the author describes the homing pigeon strategies and the unforeseen end of the one and only heroic pigeon, Gustav, who carried a message back from Normandy to the British.

The difference between this and some of the author's other books is that there wasn't a continuous flow between the chapters. They read a little like index cards on individual agents or certain events. It took a little while to get used to the rather abrupt starts and ends to each chapter, but this did not in any way detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. ( )
  cameling | Apr 28, 2014 |
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Epigraph
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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