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Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies Paperback – Illustrated, May 14, 2013
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“It should be said loud and clear that Macintyre is a supremely gifted storyteller. He spins quite a yarn. His books are absurdly entertaining. I would kill for his keen wit. He takes us into a world of bounders, spivs, roués, and men (and women) on the make….Double Cross is a blast.”
“Forget fiction when you are buying beach reading this summer. Ben Macintyre’s factual account is more gripping than what you will find anywhere else. It is a story unsurpassed in the long history of intelligence.”
“Macintyre at once exalts and subverts the myths of spycraft, and has a keen eye for absurdity.”
“[A] complex, absorbing final installment in his trilogy about World War II espionage….Macintyre is a master storyteller. Employing a wry wit and a keen eye for detail, he delivers an ultimately winning tale fraught with European intrigue and subtle wartime heroics.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Superb….the story comes alive again in all its stupendous, unimaginable duplicity.…intensely readable”
“A wonderfully entertaining story of deception and trickery that is told with verve and wit….Macintyre’s early books about espionage in World War II have been bestsellers, and this will be no exception.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Macintyre revels in the surreal aspects of his story, writing with a breezy, almost tongue-in-cheek style. But the author is also adept at communicating the seriousness and the stakes of the underlying game….Nail-biting and chuckle-inducing reading.”
“Another captivating, improbably fresh story of World War II….Double Cross is ennobling, invigorating and, above all, entertaining. Macintyre's research is impressive, as is his ability to shape disparate facts into a breathless page-turner….Throw in nail-biting suspense and the occasional decadent Nazi (fickle mistress optional) and, with Macintyre in charge, you're virtually guaranteed a history book that reads like a spy novel.”
“It is the riveting tales of these agents on which Ben Macintyre focuses, to full advantage, in Double Cross….Macintyre makes good use of the material. He knows how to let the high drama unfold on its own.”
—Wall Street Journal
“London Times writer Macintyre (Agent Zigzag, Operation Mincemeat) concludes his WWII espionage trilogy with the tantalizing tale of an oddball, ‘Dirty Dozen’-like group of double agents who fool the Nazis into believing the Allied D-Day attack would come at Calais, not Normandy.”
—New York Post, Required reading
“A tale of smarts, personal courage and — even knowing what happened on June 6, 1944 — suspense. Where would we be if these troubled, eccentric and hang-it-all characters hadn't known how to lie, and lie well?”
“As in his earlier best-sellers about WWII-era spycraft, Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, Macintyre writes with novelistic flair.”
“The story of D-Day – when 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy – as it’s never been told before….this amazing story shows how double agents and spies tricked the German army and saved thousands of Allied lives.”
—New York Post
“Only with author Ben Macintyre’s scintillating account has this complex human drama, with all its tortuous twists and turns, finally received the cinematic treatment it deserves….This is edge-of-the seat stuff.”
“Macintyre does a fine job depicting this extraordinary cast and exposing the ambiguous world of espionage....compelling.”
—MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History
“With the same skill and suspense he displayed in Operation Mincemeat and Agent Zigzag….Macintyre effortlessly weaves the agents’ deliciously eccentric personalities with larger wartime events to shape a tale that reads like a top-notch spy thriller.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Macintyre has written a tense, exciting real-life spy story that illuminates a largely obscure aspect of WWII.”
“With his latest book, Double Cross, Ben Macintyre tells the astonishing true story of a bizarre group of misfit spies who played a critical role in the success of D-Day. The stories in this book, many of which have never before been told, are nothing short of incredible. Skillfully woven together, they form one of the most gripping narratives I have ever read.”
—Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic
“Ben Macintyre and I work in the same period, and I should be reading him because he is such a scrupulous and insightful writer – a master historian. But, with Double Cross and his other excellent works, I always wind up reading him for pleasure. Double Cross may be his best yet, falling somewhere between top-class entertainment and pure addiction.”
—Alan Furst, author of A Mission to Paris
"Ben Macintyre’s spellbinding account features an improbable cast of characters who pulled off a counter-intelligence feat that was breathtaking in its audacity. Their deceptions within deceptions—known as the Double Cross—were critical to the success of the D-Day invasion, and continued to mislead the Germans long after Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. A truly bravura performance, as is Macintyre’s fast-paced tale."
—Andrew Nagorski, author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power
"How on earth, in 1944, did we dupe Berlin that we would attack the coast of France in completely the wrong place? It was a deception that saved tens of thousands of Allied lives. In Double Cross, Ben Macintyre ingeniously explains exactly how it was done."
"Never before revealed facts about the workings of the Intelligence Service in the build up to D-Day in the Second World War. Ben Macintyre's remarkable book is a gripping revelation."
“[Macintyre] has excelled himself with a cast of extraordinary characters and in his storytelling abilities....Double Cross is an utterly gripping story.”
—Antony Beevor, The Telegraph
“Enthralling....Macintyre is a master at leading the reader down some very tortuous paths while ensuring they never lose their bearings. He’s terrific, too, at animating his characters with the most succinct of touches....gripping.”
—London Evening Standard
About the Author
- ASIN : 0307888770
- Publisher : Crown; Illustrated edition (May 14, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 399 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780307888778
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307888778
- Item Weight : 12.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.92 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #56,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Though this brand of espionage apparently served the Allies quite well, one of the main tensions in the book is how the whole program was often hanging by the thread of a spider-web. Plus, not everyone in British secret service agreed that they should be doing this or that it could possibly work at all, without a tremendous blowup and backlash.
Very Informative.- Excellent book!
MacIntire does a terrific job with this material. At times you will be amazed at the denseness of the penny pinching British. MI5's refusal to bring a small dog into the country for a valuable double agent because such an action would violate the quarantine laws is a decision that will leave the reader gasping! Angry beyond words, the woman almost betrayed the entire operation. At times like that, the spymasters look like devious, miserable little men.
This book should be read before AGENT GARBO by Stephen Talty, which expands on the career of Juan Pujol, Agent Garbo, the Spanish chicken-farming genius, giving much more detail of the role he played in orchestrating German confusion. Talty's book is also terrific.
Both books wonderful additions to WWII spy literature.
Top reviews from other countries
At times, this engagingly written but dizzying book - I struggled to keep track of the agent, their British code name, their German code name, plus the fact that code-names sometimes got revamped and changed - read almost like a comedy, as the subterfuges dreamed up got wilder and wilder. In fact, the `game' of course was deadly, and the double agents were dangerously playing not only with their own lives, but the lives of thousands of others.
Macintyre concentrates on a handful of agents, who were employed, so their German handlers thought, to provide information about Britain and her military plans. In fact, these agents - flamboyant, hedonistic, larger-than-life to a man and woman, were feeding their German handlers misinformation, and as the plans for the Allied offensive which became the Normandy landings progressed, a complex structure of legerdemain was taking place, in order to get the German Secret Service, and the military, to be looking in the wrong direction, convinced that the Allied attack would happen elsewhere.
To that end, one of the double agents created a completely fictitious cohort of spies, including a mythical group of disaffected Welsh Nazi sympathisers, and several of the non-existent spies were also `minders' for still more spies. And to stretch the joke still further, it was the Abwehr (German Military Intelligence) which ended up paying for the Double Agents whom they thought were spying for Germany, to feed them this disinformation.
Not only was every active agent which the Abwehr thought they had planted in Britain in fact a double agent working FOR Britain, but the Allies even had planted `'Double Agent Pigeons' in Occupied France, as homing pigeons were employed as couriers. (You have to read the book!) Massed dummy tanks at a location to confuse spyplanes about where landings would start from, in order to divert attention to a false destination, an actor impersonating Monty and seen in a neutral country, to disguise the fact that the real Monty was elsewhere, preparing invasion, and even a beloved small dog whose possibly planned smuggle into Britain, going astray, nearly jeopardised the whole effort
In amongst the brilliant games being played, to achieve deadly ends, win or lose, and amongst the self-congratulation about British intelligence, and the extraordinary personalities of the double agents and their handlers, there is much evidence of pettifogging accountancy bureaucracy, and even extraordinary meanness, showed by a book-keeping mentality, and what at times seemed like a real lack of appreciation showed by those within the British Civil Service who were responsible for meeting expenses claims, from those often profligate, overblown, histrionic, but remarkably brave double agents, who risked not only their own lives, but the lives of many others, within their hands. Had the war of `misinformation' not been the success it was, the already horrific loss of life on the D-Day landing would have been immeasurably higher, and Allied failure here would have led to a very different outcome, and no doubt prolonged the war.
Behind the derring-do, lies of course, the horror which that derring-do was designed to end.
Rather than a book that is primarily about an individual or a specific 'Operation', the subject here is the longer term and loose project known as XX which was a short way of writing 'Double Cross' and which dominated Allied efforts from 1943-45.
It was long understood by both sides that there would at some point in time be an invasion of mainland Europe. When it was to happen and where would depend on a number of factors but it was first deemed essential that the number of successes that Hitler's Germany was to see would diminish and that Allied strengths and capabilities would have to be much greater than during the first three years of the War. The turning point came in 1943 when the Allies won at Tobruk, Sicily was successfully invaded and offered a foothold in Italy and, by no means least, when Germany was losing more submarines than they were sinking merchant vessels and the disaster of Stalingrad put paid to Germany's plan to link up with Japanese troops.
The Double Cross project involved a great many ideas each of which was intended to mislead and confuse the enemy, create doubts and weaknesses and otherwise gain whatever advantage was possible. Operation Mincemeat, the subject itself of another book by this author, was just one part and the use of double agents and using Germany's own methods of turning agents and radio operators against their own country was used with great success and without any suspicion ever being raised. The book covers many of the different ideas that were employed. It also includes some of the Enigma story, without which it would have been impossible to assess and understand German reactions to the various events.
Due to its wide coverage, it provides an excellent retrospective on the ideas, their implementation and execution and sometimes the problems that were to be encountered. There is a degree of summarisation in order to cover those parts of the overall plan which the author believes best delivers the concept; 'Agent Zigzag' another of MacIntyre's books relating a specific agent's part in the overal scheme is of almost similar size to this which provides an indication of the degree of compression applied.
An excellent read which covers much of the Intelligence-led Allied actions of the last half of the War.
What I also liked about the book was the language used which was faultless and flowing. This made it easy to read, as opposed to other authors who often write in riddles where you have to go back and re-read some sentences to make sure you have understood the meaning correctly. In this book everything is precisely stated and with frequent reminders of characters referred to in earlier chapters.
The only slight drawback with his book was that it seemed to go on for ever, although in fairness it did cover a vast amount of information. I have started to read other works by this author which seem to suffer the same problem; hence only 4 stars..