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 f...more
To be specific (and more correct), Operation Mincemeat, a plan devised by Britain's intelligence agency MI5 to convince Germany that a southern attack on Europe via the Mediterranean by Allied forces, was signed off on by Fleming, one of many in Britain's spy ring.
Though Fleming may not h...more
The plot in a nutshell, in case you aren't already familiar with it. It's ear...more
From the book blurb:
"In 1943, from a windowless basement office in London, two brilliant intelligence officers (Charles Cholmondeley of MI5 and the British naval intelligence officer Ewen Montagu) 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 Allie...more
The sequence of events – and there are several – are well depicted and we are clearly presented with the logical construction of this set-up meant to deceive the Germans into believing that the Allies mean to launch a multi-pronged invasion in the Mediterranean – instead of just Sicily.
Firstly, you get the sense that you've read this story before, and you know the outcome. Then you remember that you read "The Man Who Never Was", and saw the film (countless times) over the years. Because "Operation Mincemeat" is pretty much this same story all over again. So like "The Titanic", you know the main parts - and you know the end. But it's the detail in between that is so absorbing here.
The author, being an author, cannot help himself from noting the influence of writers in this complicated scheme. The story begins with a top secret memo entitled “The Trout Fisher,” issued under the name of Admiral John Godfrey, who was helped along by the future James Bond novelist Ian Flemming. The memo contained 51 suggestions on...more
Using recently declassified files from the British Secret Service, the author has painstakingly pieced together the story of one of the most successful deceptions of the enemy utilized during wartime. In a nutshell, a body of a British officer was deposited in the sea off the coast of Spain, near a fairly well staffed German diplomatic office. A Spanish fisherman found the body and brought it to shore. It was turned over to the Spanish police and...more
"I had a Peppermint Creme and a Caramello--very nice." --Major Derrick Leverton, writing to his mother while he was at sea during a gale-force storm, about an hour before the invasion of Sicily. During this time his shipmates were vomiting from seasickness and sheer terror. Later on, during the actual invasion, he a...more
Operation Mincemeat was the name of an intelligence plan carried out by the British against the Germans during World War II, designed to fool them into thinking that the Allied assault from North Africa would not be going through Sicily - where all rational people assumed it would go - but instead through Sardinia and Greece, and any references to Sicily were merely de...more
History aside, this was a fun book just for its insight into intelligence operations. I assumed go...more
Macintyre's book is extremely well-researched and detailed; but reads like fiction. The main characters - Flight Lieutenant Charles Cholmondeley and Lieutenant Commander...more
The Allies had just kicked the Africans out of North Africa, and the obvious next step was an i...more
If you know the plot to the film "The Man Who Wasn't There", then you're familiar with Operation Mincemeat. It's the same operation, just fictionalized. I'm not going to go into detail because reading it is such a jo...more
In 1943 the Allies were victorious in Africa, driving Rommel's Afrika Corps back to Italy. The next step was to invade some part of Europe, and "Operation Husky" was to take the fight to Italy. The Allies deluded the Nazis into thinking that the main attack on Sicily was just a diversion, and t...more
Most history of great wars involves the "big picture" moments. Battles, tactical decisions, technological advances...these all tend to stand in place of the little moments: like the British strategist who went so deep into creating a fictional man's background that he...more
In 1943 the British attempted to deceive the Germans about where the next invasion would occur in the Meditteranean. They did so by dressing up the corpse of an unfortunate Welsh drifter (he died ingesting rat poison) in a Royal Marine uniform and attaching to him a briefcase with fake documents indicating invasions in Sardinia and the Balkans. The corpse was put into the Atlantic off the coast of Spain; that portion of the coast had an active German agent. The body was duly picked up by some S...more
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...more