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Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victoryby Ben Macintyre
Synopses & Reviews
Ben Macintyre’s Agent Zigzag was hailed as “rollicking, spellbinding” (New York Times), “wildly improbable but entirely true” (Entertainment Weekly), and, quite simply, “the best book ever written” (Boston Globe). In his new book, Operation Mincemeat, he tells an extraordinary story that will delight his legions of fans.
In 1943, from a windowless basement office in London, two brilliant intelligence officers conceived a plan that was both simple and complicated— Operation Mincemeat. The purpose? To deceive the Nazis into thinking that Allied forces were planning to attack southern Europe by way of Greece or Sardinia, rather than Sicily, as the Nazis had assumed, and the Allies ultimately chose.
Charles Cholmondeley of MI5 and the British naval intelligence officer Ewen Montagu could not have been more different. Cholmondeley was a dreamer seeking adventure. Montagu was an aristocratic, detail-oriented barrister. But together they were the perfect team and created an ingenious plan: Get a corpse, equip it with secret (but false and misleading) papers concerning the invasion, then drop it off the coast of Spain where German spies would, they hoped, take the bait. The idea was approved by British intelligence officials, including Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond). Winston Churchill believed it might ring true to the Axis and help bring victory to the Allies.
Filled with spies, double agents, rogues, fearless heroes, and one very important corpse, the story of Operation Mincemeat reads like an international thriller.
Unveiling never-before-released material, Ben Macintyre brings the reader right into the minds of intelligence officers, their moles and spies, and the German Abwehr agents who suffered the “twin frailties of wishfulness and yesmanship.” He weaves together the eccentric personalities of Cholmondeley and Montagu and their near-impossible feats into a riveting adventure that not only saved thousands of lives but paved the way for a pivotal battle in Sicily and, ultimately, Allied success in the war.
"London Times writer-at-large Macintyre (Agent Zigzag) offers a solid and entertaining updating of WWII's best-known 'human intelligence' operation. In 1943, British intelligence conceived 'a spectacular con trick' to draw German attention away from the Allies' obvious next objective, Sicily. The bait was a briefcase full of carefully forged documents attached to the wrist of 'Major William Martin, Royal Marines' — a fictitious identity given to a body floated ashore in neutral Spain. Making the deception plausible was the task given to two highly unconventional officers: Lt. Comdr. Ewen Montagu and Squadron Leader Charles Cholmondeley. Macintyre recounts their adventures and misadventures with panache. The body was that of a derelict. Its costuming included the underwear of a deceased Oxford don. An attractive secretary provided the photo of an imaginary fiance. The carefully constructed documents setting up the bogus operation against Greece and Sardinia convinced even Hitler himself. The Sicily landings were achieved as almost a complete surprise. And 'the man who never was' entered the history and folklore of WWII. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
In 1943 a body washed ashore off the coast of Spain carrying falsified intelligence documents designed to convince the Germans that Allied forces planned to invade Greece and Sardinia rather than Sicily. The successful execution of this clever ruse, code named "Operation Mincemeat," is the subject of this entertaining nonfiction spy thriller. Macintyre, a British author and writer for the London Times, used recently declassified military documents as well as top secret materials kept by the family of Ewen Montagu, the British intelligence officer who along with his colleague Charles Cholmondeley concocted the plan, to construct a compelling narrative. Readers interested in World War II history or military intelligence, and fans of spy novels will appreciate this volume. A section of black and white photographs and an appendix containing photocopied documents is included. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
BEN MACINTYRE is writer-at-large and associate editor of the Times of London. He is the author of Agent Zigzag, The Man Who Would Be King, The Englishman’s Daughter, The Napoleon of Crime, and Forgotten Fatherland. He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Kate Muir, and their three children.
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