On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. D-Day was a stunning military accomplishment, but it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. It was the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, ensuring that Hitler kept an entire army awaiting a fake invasion, saving thousands of lives, and securing an Allied victory at the most critical juncture in the war.
The story of D-Day has been told from the point of view of the soldiers who fought in it, the tacticians who planned it, and the generals who led it. But this epic event in world history has never before been told from the perspectives of the key individuals in the Double Cross System. These include its director (a brilliant, urbane intelligence officer), a colorful assortment of MI5 handlers (as well as their counterparts in Nazi intelligence), and the five spies who formed Double Cross’s nucleus: a dashing Serbian playboy, a Polish fighter-pilot, a bisexual Peruvian party girl, a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming and a volatile Frenchwoman, whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire plan. The D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled, and their success depended on the delicate, dubious relationship between spy and spymaster, both German and British. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is revealed here for the first time.
With the same depth of research, eye for the absurd and masterful storytelling that have made Ben Macintyre an international bestseller, Double Cross is a captivating narrative of the spies who wove a web so intricate it ensnared Hitler’s army and carried thousands of D-Day troops across the Channel in safety.
About Ben Macintyre
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.
Before The D-Day Invasion, Double Talk And Deceit
NPR Book Review – July 28, 2012 (Excerpt)
Early in 1944, Southern England bristled with 150,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers gathered for an invasion the Allies hoped would end World War II.
The soldiers, pilots, sailors and Marines knew they were there to be launched into Nazi-occupied Europe. But surely the Germans knew also. It’s hard to hide the largest invasion force in history. LIFE Magazine even ran photos of GIs in Piccadilly.
The question was: Where would they attack?
The British effort to feign, trick and fool the Germans into believing the D-Day invasion would be anywhere but Normandy was largely the work of people plotting at desks: untrustworthy double-agents, West End set designers and at least one pigeon handler.
Author Ben MacIntyre tells their story in his new book,Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies. MacIntyre, the author of the previous best-sellers Operation Mincement and Agent Zigzag, spoke to NPR’s Scott Simon about what was ultimately one of the great military victories in history. [Read the full article...]
DOUBLE CROSS The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
The Washington Post Book Review – August 4, 2012 (Excerpt)
Is there any nation on Earth more adept at lying than Great Britain? Reading Ben Macintyre’s superb account of Britain’s masterful counter-intelligence operations during World War II, it’s hard to imagine that they have any peers when it comes to the art of deception.
In “Double Cross,” Macintryre tells a tale that will be broadly familiar to those with an interest in military or intelligence history. But he does so with such lively writing, and with access to so many interesting new documents, that the story comes alive again in all its stupendous, unimaginable duplicity.
The Brits, in brief, managed to control and manipulate every single German agent sent to Britain to spy on the Allies and their preparations for the decisive June 1944 D-Day invasion. Not only did the British flip or neutralize every Nazi operative, they were able to assess the success of their deception every step of the way by monitoring Germany’s encrypted intelligence messages. On these two pillars of Britain’s wartime intelligence success — the “Double Cross” deception and the “Enigma” code break — stands, at least in part, the great Allied victory in Europe. But lest the Brits get too cocky about their espionage genius, it’s worth noting that, at the very time they were deceiving the Germans, they were themselves being deceived by the Soviets, who had planted their own spies at the heart of Britain’s MI6 and MI5 services. [Read the full article...]
The Agents Who Fooled the Nazis About D-Day
The New York Times Book Review – August 8, 2012 (Excerpt)
Ben Macintyre is the reigning champ when it comes to attention-grabbing World War II spy stories that are stranger than fiction. Each of his two most recent books, “Agent Zigzag” and “Operation Mincemeat,” has been suspensefully written and studded with exotic details. And each has been narrowly particular. “Agent Zigzag” focused on Eddie Chapman, the onetime thief who turned his duplicity toward deceiving Germany on behalf of the Allied war effort. The more amazing “Operation Mincemeat” outlined the elaborate use of a floating corpse to spread disinformation.
“Double Cross,” Mr. Macintyre’s far-reaching account of elite double agents, winds up detailing the war’s most complicated and successful ruse: the D-Day feat of deflecting German attention from the beaches of Normandy and successfully faking a different attack aimed at Calais, to the northeast. But this is a more crowded, less intimate book. Mr. Macintyre often seems dizzied by information overload, just as some of his readers may be.
If you haven’t pored through the earlier books, which established some of the most important German and British spymasters behind the fake Calais invasion, called Operation Fortitude, the new book will seem oddly organized and blandly written. Mr. Macintyre cherry-picks so many quotations from other sources that his own voice can give way to the crowdsourced sound of a Zagat guide. [Read the full article...]
War Games - ‘Double Cross,’ by Ben Macintyre
The New York Times Book Review – August 31, 2012 (Excerpt)
Ben Macintyre is the leading practitioner of oddball-powered history. A connoisseur and celebrant of eccentricity, he specializes in often hilarious, sometimes tragic, but always fizzily exhilarating tales of madcap exploits and bizarre adventures.
His first book, “Forgotten Fatherland,” excavated the story of Nietzsche’s sister and her founding of Nueva Germania, a racially pure colony of vegetarian anti-Semites in Paraguay. Macintyre then went on to Adam Worth, the master thief who inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of the Holmesian supervillain Professor Moriarty.
More recently, Macintyre has turned his attention to World War II, in particular the spy-versus-spy drama (and comedy) of British efforts to bamboozle the Germans. First, Macintyre exposed the antics of Agent Zigzag — in reality, one Eddie Chapman, safecracker, boulevardier and double (maybe triple) operative. Next came the story of Operation Mincemeat, when the British used a corpse handcuffed to a briefcase full of fake documents to hoodwink the Nazis into believing the Allies would not invade Sicily in 1943. [Read the full article...]
DOODLEBUGS & SPITFIRES Memories and Short Stories by Peter Carroll
“Doodlebugs & Spitfires” is a delightful collection of memories and short stories written by Peter Carroll, the author of “Queen of Misfortune,” in his trademark poetic and profoundly thoughtful style.
Most of his stories, previously published in limited form in local English newspapers and magazines, like “Brave New World”, “The Forties Street Tradesmen”, “Doodlebugs”, or “The Christmas of 43” evolve around his childhood in the Northern part of London during and after World War II. He describes the horrors that came with the V1 flying bombs, nicknamed the “Doodlebugs.” Heroic British pilots in their “Spitfire” airplanes would attempt to divert the flying bombs from the populated areas, sometimes successful, and sometimes not.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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