The Double-Cross System: In the War of 1939 to 1945
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The Double-Cross System: In the War of 1939 to 1945

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Filled with highly sensitive information about espionage, this secret report was never intended to go beyond a very select audience within the government and security services. The man who wrote it in 1945 was J. C. Masterman, MI5 recruit and leader of the shadowy XX Committee. He was the mastermind behind one of the war’s most remarkable achievements: finding, turning and...more
Hardcover, 215 pages
Published August 2007 by The Folio Society (first published 1945)
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THE DOUBLE CROSS SYSTEM. (1972). J. C. Masterman. ****.
During WW II, espionage played a vital role in contributing to both the strategic and tactical plans of all combatants. A sub-set of espionage was the use of double agents. In this book, originally written as a final report to the Ministry in 1945, the author tells of how an organization reporting to MI5 managed to turn about forty of Germany’s spies into spies for the British effort. These spies were normally apprehended as they tried to e...more
Scott Weeks
Dry, but compelling. Dry because it is a reprint in book form of a government report, compelling because it is a report on how the British government in World War II controlled the German spy network in England. Masterman introduces the work with thoughts on the whys and wherefores of running a double cross system-where the German spies were turned and used against Germany, rather than merely being arrested and thrown in prison-among other reasons, they could control what information Germany rec...more
Nov 18, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WW2 history buffs
Written shortly after the end of the Second World War but not published for almost 30 years after that, John Cecil Masterman's account of the "double cross" system is meticulous, balanced and well organized. Since it was written relatively soon after the war ended, Masterman's perspective is still very immediate and there isn't too much hindsight to colour the impressions he has. As one might expect of an Oxford don, he writes well, with elegantly long sentences and touches of wry humour (one ex...more
Aug 06, 2007 Kay rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII and espionage buffs
I'm fascinated by the deception campaigns of WWII. This book was written by one of the men who devised the "double-cross system," in which the British intelligence service fed misinformation to the Germans. Basically, all the German spies in Britain were captured early on in the war and subsequently controlled by the British.

The book is essentially a government report that was written, but not released until 1972. (Basically, the British were not in any particular hurry to disclose their methods...more
Masterman, a university professor and mystery writer, was a leading member of the XX Committee--MI6's committee that ran turned German agents during World War II. As nearly as can be told, the British suborned every German agent in England and used them to funnel false information back to German spymasters while allowing the English to learn about what the Germans actually knew. Masterman's book is a reprint of his original report to the British government at the end of the war, just prior to re...more
This was fascinating, both for its straightforward outline of precisely how and where Britain used double agents and for the sheer convolutedness of a lot of its specific examples (especially agents "Scruffy" and "Meteor", and the deception centered around the fake "Major Martin").
Eric Moore
Originally written as a government report on the Double Cross system by the man responsible for running it, the writing is a little dry as you might imagine. Not badly written, but a straightforward and to the point telling of the story. But what a story.
This study of British counter-intelligence during the Second World War is a must read for anyone interested in the period. The author was there, and he tells the amazing tale of how the British confounded German intelligence throughout the war.
At times interesting but at times pretty boring. I thought it would be more accessible to the common person. I think it was too in depth for me to enjoy and there were a lot of parts that were hard to follow or remember.
Jens Hansen
A classic. All too often the original accounts of history are forgotten in favour of later compilations. Of course the latter often have a broader perspective, but reading the originals is just that little bit more fun.
All Nazi spies in W.W.II Britain were caught. Many were executed but most were turned into double agents. Here is how, written by the man behind the operation..
Brady R.
A fantastic look at the business of counterintelligence. Readily accessible to even the most casual student of World War 2.
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Born on 12 January 1891, John Cecil Masterman was educated at the Royal Naval Colleges of Osborne and Dartmouth and at Worcester College, Oxford, where he read Modern History.

He later studied at the University of Freiburg where he was also an exchange lecturer in 1914, whicht was where he was when World War I broke out. Consequently he was interned as an enemy alien for four years in a prisoner-of...more
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