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Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,997 Ratings  ·  719 Reviews
Six real British spies (one dies), plus fake national network, divert Nazis from 6 June 1944 so 150K Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy sustain lower than expected casualties. Double Cross includes handsome brilliant director "Tar", colorful MI5 handlers, Nazi counterparts. The nucleus was Wodehouse Wooster imitator Jebsen, Serbian playboy Popov, boastful nationalist ...more
Paperback, 604 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Random House Large Print (first published 2012)
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The least entertaining and successful of Macintyre's WWII spy books IMO, probably because the cast of characters was too numerous and nothing interesting really happened until the final 100 pages.

Nonetheless, fans of non-fiction espionage should find some wheat amongst the chaff in this revelation of the part spies and deception played in the successful allied invasion of Normandy (otherwise known as D-Day).

Macintyre knows his material, and gives the reader a full complement of material availabl
This is an astonishingly good, absolutely riveting account of a disparate group of individuals whose exploits during WW2 went largely unsung. It was provided to me by netgalley and is well written with humor, empathy and clarity. It brings in accounts of other operations and the bigger picture to provide context, but never moves away from the double agents themselves.

I honestly had no idea that such an infuriating, temperamental, intelligent and diverse a group of people played such an important
Jan 01, 2014 Joan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British and WWII history interests
This book was absolutely hilarious. It is proof of the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. I don't think any fiction authors could invent the wacky people in this book because they wouldn't have been believed.I quote a few sentences from the book to prove my point (p.5-6):

"For the D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled. They included a bisexual Peruvian playgirl, a tiny Polish fighter pilot, a mercurial Frenchwoman a Serbian seducer, and a
May 10, 2016 Siv30 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2, history
אחד מהספרים השנונים, החדים והמרתקים שיצא לי לקרוא על מלחמת העולם השניה. מקלדתו של הסופר, בן מקנטייר, שופעת תיאורים לפעמים מבריקים, שגורמים לקורא להתמוגג, עד כדי כך שרכשתי לי עותק מכל הספרים שכתב.

הספר הזה עוסק במבצע עוז רוח, ההטעיה שקדמה למבצע אוברלורד, או הפלישה לנורמנדי של בנות הברית. הפלישה תוכננה למאי 1944. והיא נדיחתה בחודש, והיה חשש מבוסס שהיא תסתיים בכישלון שילווה במרחץ דמים. בכדי לשכנע את היטלר שלא להזיז את הדביזיה ה 15 מקאלה, היה צורך לשכנע את הפיקוד הגרמני שהפלישה כשתתבצע, תהיה מקאלה ול
I ran out of gas around page 65. I don't know why I keep picking up spy non fiction books when I know that there is nothing exciting about the life of a real spy. Only James Bond, that Bourne guy and Sterling Archer have exciting lives in espionage and they are fictitious characters; and that Bourne guy wasn't even a spy technically, he was just a crazy assassin who lost his marbles.
D Day. The beginning of the end of the Second World War. But for this massive operation to succeed the Allies had to do every trick in the book to convince the Nazis that the invasion was going to take place in a different location.

So was conceived Operation Fortitude, an audacious plan of lies, deception and misinformation to persuade the military that the invasion was going to take place in Norway and Calais. This team of double agents, Bronx, Brutus, Treasure, Tricycle and Garbo fed back to t
Aug 15, 2016 Tal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

פעם, כשהייתי צעיר, הייתי צופה בסדרה בריטית על מרגלים בMI5. מתברר שיש לה לא מעט שמות: ספוקס(spooks), MI-5, המרגלים וכנראה שעוד כמה. בשבילי זה הדבר הכי איכותי שידעתי באותו זמן. אחר כך, עם בואם של סרטי הג'יימס בונד וג'ייסון בורן זה גם הפך להיות הדבר הכי אמין בעניין הריגול. כמובן, עדיין בגדר תוכנית טלוויזיה.
המליצו לי על הספר, "אתה תודה לי אחר כך." אמרו. ובכן, אני מודה(בעניין ה.

אני יכול להגיד שלא ציפיתי שבספר על MI-5 האמיתי יהיה סיפור כה מוזר, חשוד במופרך ושקשה לי לתאר אותו בלי להשתמש במילה "גרוטסקי"
Jul 24, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest stories ever pieced together! Really. Macintyre assembles a complex, nearly incomprehensible story into an amusing Mercedes Benz of a book. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. He transforms a clearly tremendous effort of preparation on his part into a suspenseful, informative spy story. I love “his” mostly disparate “characters:” The whole lot of double crossers, their German and British handlers and everybody else at MI5 and 6. This is a helluvan example of a British-lead ...more
John Frazier
Sep 05, 2013 John Frazier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I doubt I'll live long enough to fully appreciate the innumerable stories that continue to publish almost 70 years after the end of World War II, and this is just one more example of what makes most of them so engaging, so captivating, so essential. You don't get labeled as a "World War" without involving a good portion of the globe and, although it involves perhaps the most chronicled event of the war in D-Day and the Normandy Invasion, "Double Cross" is the riveting story of a handful of behin ...more
Jul 07, 2015 Harold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
This is the third Ben Macintyre spy saga I've read and all of them have been very very interesting. This one should be made into a mini-series - a movie would never be able to fit in as complex a plot contained herein.
This is an in depth study of the careers of five double agents in WWII. British intelligence completely ran the German intelligence into dead ends of misinformation. How they held it together, the depth of the deception, is remarkable. That they succeeded is partially their own doi
Dick Reynolds
Aug 14, 2014 Dick Reynolds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s the summer of 1943 and Germany’s forces have taken over much of Europe. Tar Robertson of the British Security Service (aka MI5) is putting the finishing touches on a weapon that will tell a huge lie to Hitler. Robertson has collected a small and most unusual group of agents, characters who’ve established fake allegiance to Hitler and will act as British spies feeding false information back to Hitler’s own intelligence officers.
The Double Cross team members concocted their own sub-agents
I have always loved real life survival stories, especially when dealing with WWII. This is a story about the Double Cross spies, upon whom the survival of many in WWII was depended. Their misinformation was known to have made it way to top Nazi eyes and ears, and the resulting sucess of the Normandy Invasion is evidence that the ruses employed was successful.

I read this book just after reading "In the Garden of Beasts.", second in my trilogy of WWII stories recently read. In this book, you know
Apr 06, 2013 Ware rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any book which features such unlikely heroes as a transvestite British colonel and counterfeit homing pigeons is going to keep my interest, and this witty history of MI-5's wartime counterespionage program does just that. Run out of "Section Twenty" which was the only section of the service to use Roman numerals (XX equals Double Cross), the British fed the Germans a stream of fake intelligence to achieve strategic and tactical results.

The real heroes are the spies themselves. In fact long befor
Oct 07, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
DOUBLE CROSS. (2012). Ben Macintyr. ****.
Mr. Macintyr introduces us to a group of individuals who played a silent and secret role for the Allied during World War II. They managed to convince the Germans that the attack from England onto the Continent that occurred on June 6, 1944, would be launched against the region around Calais, not Normandy. This forced the Nazi high command to maintain a strong presence of troops in that area away from the actual target, thereby ultimately saving thousands
Sep 06, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ben Macintyre's ability to write history books that are so entertaining and readable that it's hard to believe they aren't fiction is stunning.

When you consider the hours that he must have spent trawling through rather dry records to find the thread of the book, let alone cross checking details from other sources, and then pulling together a story that is not only thrilling, but also was a crucial part of D Day succeeding, I'm in awe.

His ability to humanise people is extraordinary, with the va
A book about the spymasters and double agents assisting the Allies’ real and fake plans to invade Nazi-held France in WW2. Overall I give this book 3 stars, but it’s mixed. The beginning is 5 stars, the middle is 1 star and the last 75 pages are 4 stars. I started out enjoying this book immensely. Halfway through I was puzzled that I wasn’t enjoying it more: it's a true WW2 spy story, for goodness sake! The midsection just drags on and on — I got tired of the details and started skimming. The la ...more
Oct 06, 2012 Bernie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

World War 2 espionage fascinates Ben Macintyre. A British writer who has discovered oddball characters and double-agents that are not so much out of Hitchcock but Mel Brooks.
In his newest work, Macintyre details the not-entirely believable story of a motley group of spies who deceived the Germans into believing that the D-Day invasion in 1944 would take place in Pas de Calais and not Normandy. The spies included a bisexual Peruvian playgirl, an eccentric Spaniard with a degree in chicken farm
Jason Blythe
Dec 09, 2013 Jason Blythe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 17, 2012 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One day during World War Two, Thomas Argylle "Tar" Robertson, a member of England's MI5, sat back to look at the big picture. And he realized that he and not the German Abwehr controlled all the German spies in Britain. All of them. The Germans thought they had a large network of agents in the British Isles. Every one of these agents was either an agent for the British or fictional. . . .

To read the rest of my review go to my blog at:

Graham Powell
Jul 23, 2014 Graham Powell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding history of the greatest deception campaign in history. During World War II, the British found every single German agent sent to spy on them. Many of these were not captured, but turned voluntarily, eager to work against their supposed comrades. Among them were a rich Serbian playboy; a henpecked Spaniard; an expatriate Pole, already a veteran spy; a Peruvian heiress at loose ends; and a French neurotic.

While not neglecting dates and events, Macintyre wisely focuses on the
Dec 27, 2014 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detail heavy amid numerous characters, it's still worth the density of the read. In desperate times, it is often the most bizarre and strange twists of assumption that can confuse or detain or bolster toward action in exact contexts to convince. Convincing the other side to do the wrong thing and focus attentions more advantageously for the Allies, in these cases. Complex human relationships and reality of associations in war (commerce too)can often be beyond fiction's ability to conjecture.

Tudor Ciocarlie
Sep 13, 2012 Tudor Ciocarlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Delicious read! Because of its incredible events, this excellent non-fiction book feels almost like a science-fiction story. Except that it is all real. The entire Double Cross system was one of the most amazing feats ever achieved by a group of human beings.
There were a lot of characters to keep track of in here. And while the stories of the double agents are interesting, I thought the book could have been edited down significantly to make the primary story arc more recognizable amid the details. Because it was so dense and the pacing was slow, I found myself reading very quickly and I didn't absorb as much as I might have.

My knowledge of WWII isn't super deep, so perhaps the author is assuming knowledge that I don't have--or perhaps I read the boo
Jul 20, 2014 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history and spy buffs
This is a very good book. I would have given it 5 stars, but it being audio i am rating it in part on the narration, which is good but . . . leaves some to be desired.
There are so many stories in here of all the various spies that its hard to keep track. The story of the spy with the Dog, the double cross spy pigeons, etc.
World War 2 was fought on many fronts, the spy game was every bit as complex as battle ground strategy and an intergral part of it.
I need to listen to it again to fully digest
Oct 02, 2015 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many things about war, of all types, that are nearly incomprehensibly to me. World War II holds a particular place in my curiosity. Here, 18 year old kid, you’ve been recruited to take this weapon and go kill as many of the other guys as you can. Never thought you’d ever have to kill a man, huh? (Insert “war is Hell” platitude.) How are you normal again after you liberate a concentration camp? What hell it must have been like running up the beach at Normandy?

And they hardly knew that t
Sep 09, 2012 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yay! I really like these books about WWII espionage. There's some sort of nutty mix of technology, record-keeping and a passionate urge to keep personal diaries that means any WWII story has a lot of in-the-moment context in the form of supporting documentation. It's hard to imagine that almost ALL of the double (sometimes triple) agents in the Double Cross scheme kept personal diaries, but they did. And today we're warned not to write down our computer passwords, in case someone breaks into our ...more
Tom Nixon
Dec 21, 2012 Tom Nixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BTW: I figured out why this wasn't letting update with number of pages- only percentage completed and that's because for some reason I selected the audio book option instead of the book option.

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies really should be a movie. Having finished it, I can think of no other conclusion other than it is tailor made for Hollywood to screw up somehow. (I still haven't forgiven Hollywood's horrific revisionism of U-571*.) The story of the British spies that played
Apr 13, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has read anything by Ben Macintyre before will know that they are in for a treat. He is a wonderful storyteller and, in this book, he is on territory he seems to understand brilliantly and relish. The Allied military planners were working on the the great assault on Nazi Occupied Europe - the D-Day invasion would decide the outcome of the war. In order to convince the Germans that the invasion was coming where it was not actually coming, and not coming in the place where it was actual ...more
Jul 31, 2012 Alla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Double Cross” by Ben Macintyre tells the stories of double agents who worked for the British intelligence services MI5 during WWII while pretending to spy for Germany. Their acts of bravery in feeding Germany fake information about the actions of the Allies played an important role in the successful invasion of Normandy during D-Day and the ultimate victory in the war. And while focusing on the duels between the German and British spy services, Macintyre closes in on the double agents themselve ...more
Dec 05, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book finishes a trilogy by Ben Macintyre begun by Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, both of which I enjoyed immensely. Double Cross tells the story of the intelligence agents utilized by the British government to fool the Nazi regime into thinking that the opening of the Second Front in 1944 was going to occur in such diverse areas as Norway, the south of France, and the area around Calais in northern France. The Double Cross program was run by Tar Robertson and he and his staff special ...more
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WW2 Spy Novels group now available 1 10 Feb 27, 2014 09:16AM  
  • Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day
  • A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII.
  • Operation Fortitude
  • The Double-Cross System The Incredible True Story of How Nazi Spies Were Turned into Double Agents
  • Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS
  • Blackett's War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare
  • Dam Busters: The True Story of the Legendary Raid on the Ruhr
  • Sisterhood of Spies
  • The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy
  • Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-1944
  • The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The WWII Codebreaking Centre and the Men and Women Who Worked There
  • The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat
  • Army of Evil: A History of the SS
  • Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5
  • The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain
  • Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945
  • Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945
  • The Secret History of MI6
Ben Macintyre is an author, historian and columnist writing for The Times newspaper. His columns range from current affairs to historical controversies.

In July 2006, Macintyre wrote an article in The Times entitled "How wiki-wiki can get sticky", criticising the limitations of Wikipedia. He cited the self-regulation system as inadequate when literally "anyone" could add supposed "facts" to Wikipe
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“For the D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled. They included a bisexual Peruvian playgirl, a tiny Polish fighter pilot, a mercurial Frenchwoman, a Serbian seducer, and a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming.” 3 likes
“As the real army plowed through the waves toward Normandy, two more fake convoys were scientifically simulated heading for the Seine and Boulogne by dropping from planes a blizzard of tinfoil, code-named “Window,” which would show up on German radar as two huge flotillas approaching the French coast.” 1 likes
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