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Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  7,709 ratings  ·  893 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,
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Hardcover, Large Print, 640 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Center Point (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jason Koivu
When a dead man becomes a highly effective spy, fools the enemy and helps win a war with the world in the balance, well, that sounds like something James Bond writer Ian Fleming would concoct. Oh wait, he did.

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
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David
I feel I ought to have liked this book more than I did. Lord knows, the author did his research, in commendable detail. But did he really have to include everything he learned in the final book? At some point the level of detail provided went (for me) beyond interesting and started to become stultifying. MacIntyre is a decent writer, but I think he falls into the trap that bedevils many non-fiction authors -- all the time and energy spent doing the research causes him to lose perspective. The st ...more
Manny
The basic story is well known, but since the appearance of the first book, The Man Who Never Was, an extraordinary amount of new material has become available. Even if you've read The Man Who Never Was (I had), I can't recommend Operation Mincemeat highly enough. This is, quite simply, the most extraordinary book of its kind that I've ever come across. I couldn't put it down, and finished it in a little more than a day.

The plot in a nutshell, in case you aren't already familiar with it. It's ear
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Caroline
It's a rare gem when history is unfolded for us in such a detailed and thrilling form. In 1943, Ewan Montagu of the British Naval Intelligence and Charles Cholmondeley of MI5 came together in collaboration of a complex plan of deception. The plan that was ultimately approved was to take a suitable corpse, dress it in a suitable military uniform, place certain well-planned personal items, attach to it a chained briefcase containing fake official documents and personal letters, and then drop it th ...more
Nancy Oakes
Briefly, I have to say that this is one of the most fascinating books of history I've read in a very long time. You don't even need to be a WWII buff to appreciate it -- I'm not -- but it's simply amazing. The basic story is this: it's 1943, and the Allies have plans to invade Sicily to get a foothold in Europe and defeat Hitler. But since Sicily is the most obvious place for an Allied landing, Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley (it's pronounced "Chumley") of the Naval Intelligence section of ...more
Mikey B.
A marvellous story of intrigue of actual events during World War II. There are a host of wonderful and eclectic characters in England, Spain and Germany. The author presents all these in readable detail.

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.

The autho
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Hannah
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

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
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F.R.
The fashion for World War Two films and novels these days is to play down the derring-do and instead concentrate on what exposure to all that battle and death does to a person’s soul. (Alistair MacLean is not an author in vogue.) Exactly the same is true of the spy genre, where the duplicity these men (and, to a lesser degree, women) do whilst playing their great game eats away at their insides. And yet in Ben McIntyre’s two non-fiction books detailing strange tales of espionage in the Second Wo ...more
Huw Rhys
I do like the odd History book - and this was an odd history book - and I liked it!

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.

Most historical
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Tony
I like reading about espionage and World War II every once in a while, so based on some favorable review I read somewhere, I picked this up. Unfortunately, like all too many popular nonfiction books I seem to encounter these days (such as The Tiger and In the Heart of the Sea, to name the two most recent examples I read), the book is overstuffed with extraneous detail and (to my mind at least) vastly overstates the importance of the topic it covers. The title refers to a British intelligence ope ...more
Otis Chandler
Peter McCarthy recommends
Mike Knox
A thrilling book about how British espionage and deception in World War II fooled Hitler and enabled the Allies to make a decisive takeover of the island of Sicily.

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
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Bob Uva
This is the story of an ingenious plan to deceive the Nazis into thinking that the southern European invasion would come in Greece rather than in Sicily, as actually happened. The plan involved floating a dead courier's body ashore in southern Spain, after which it was hoped the many pro-German spies would discover a letter between Allied Generals indicating the direction of the European invasion plans. The story is quite amazing, especially in the fact that it worked. I enjoyed hearing how the ...more
Tony
OPERATION MINCEMEAT. (2010). Ben Macintyre. ****.
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
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Kirsti
"Montagu and Cholmondeley took turns lying in the back and trying to sleep, as if that were possible when being driven at high speed by a myopic Grand Prix driver with no headlights."

"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
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Nigeyb
Apparently, whilst writing Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal, Ben Macintyre became aware of this strange tale of espionage and deception. I read, and really enjoyed, Ben Macintyre's Agent Zigzag in April 2013, and so didn't need much convincing to read this book too. It's not as entertaining and compelling as Agent Zigzag, however, whilst not quite as gripping, it is a story of huge significance to the way the Second World War played out. It saved lives, shortened ...more
Kurt
The rule of thumb is that if you have to explain a joke, it isn't funny. But if you do explain a joke, then I know how it works.

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
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Dawn
“In 1943, two brilliant intelligence officers conceived a plan that was dubbed Operation Mincemeat. They would trick the Nazis into thinking that Allied forces were planning to attack southern Europe by way of Greece rather than Sicily… Their plan was to get a corpse, equip it with misleading papers concerning the invasion, then drop it off the coast of Spain where German spies would take the bait.”

History aside, this was a fun book just for its insight into intelligence operations. I assumed go
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Tracey
I recently picked up this book thanks to friedo's recommendation over on the SDMB and F.R. Jameson's 4 star rating here. I'd recently read For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming And James Bond by the same author, and was interested to find out more specifics about this audacious disinformation plan that the Fleming bio only hinted at.

Macintyre's book is extremely well-researched and detailed; but reads like fiction. The main characters - Flight Lieutenant Charles Cholmondeley and Lieutenant Commander
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J.M.
I don't know where I first saw mention of this book, but its premise intrigued me so I wanted to get a copy. My parents gave it to me for my birthday. At first I was intimidated -- I worried it might be too dense to get through -- but I quickly realized that wasn't the case. The writing is fast-paced and the story borders on the absurd. Such a fun read! And the fact it really happened only enhances it. A definite must for anyone interested in espionage, wartime exploits, or World War II.
Christy
It's an interesting story, but the author got so bogged down in details it became painful. He clearly did his research, almost every person got their own multipage biography, instead of just, this is who it was and why they mattered. Yes, some of their lives were interesting, like the gold hunter dude, but it had little bearing on the story. It could have been shorter, more concise, and as a result, more intriguing. He had enough info he probably could have written it more like a novel than a dr ...more
Jean Cole
Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
2015 Reading Challenge – Based on a True Story
Truth is stranger than fiction? Truth is better than fiction. In 1943, Ewan Montagu, a British naval intelligence officer, and Charles Cholmondeley of MI5 come up with a daring, outrageous plan to float a dead body carrying false intelligence onto the shores of Spain in the hopes that it will fall into German hands. Montagu chronicled his adventures i
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Michele
3.5 stars.
An absolute flurry of facts. They come at you so fast it can make your head spin. But, if you get used to his style (for me this happened on page 180) then you are fascinated by the fact that this actually worked.
There were several people I wanted to know more about. It would be neat to contrast the two pathologists: Spillsbury vs. Bentley Purchase; optimist against pessimist

Best quote: 323 Keep a real sense of humour. By real I don't mean just to be able to see a joke, but to able t
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Mark Russell
This book tells the story of one of the strangest, most daring and ultimately, probably the most effective intelligence operations of World War II. It involved (I'm not making this up), taking the body of a dead homeless man, dressing him up in a high-ranking officer's uniform, and then dumping his body off the shore of Spain with an attache case chained to his arm and filled with false invasion plans.

The Allies had just kicked the Africans out of North Africa, and the obvious next step was an i
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Grace
This book is amazing! It's twisty and factual and FUNNY, which is not necessarily what you'd think, given it's a story about a high-risk WWII spy plot. But I frequently laughed aloud while reading - MacIntyre's timing is impeccable, hilarious while never jarring you out of the story.

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
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Khalid
If you are a fan of intelligence operations you will love this book. The author demonstrates intimate knowledge of his subject matter with exhaustive research and shares his enthusiasm with wit and style.
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
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Gary Brecht
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian DiMattia
"Operation Mincemeat" is a wonderful, and wonderfully written, book for those who like a nice, deep understanding of World War II, and for any who love to see the deeper, stranger things, the oddly human moments behind great events.

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
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Regina Lindsey
Here's an idea to use in wartime, "a corpse dressed as a an airman, with dispatches in his pockets, could be dropped on the coast, supposedly from a parachute that had failed," to trick the enemy (pg 20). Yeah, and we could do this trick the Nazis into thinking, from the dispatches, that we (the Allies) are going to attack Greece instead of Sicily! Sound like a scene from a James Bond movie? That's because it's the brainchild of Ian Fleming who would go on to write the James Bond novels. Of cour ...more
Judy
The saying goes "All's fair in love and war" and this book proves just that point. In late 1942, the Allies are being pressured by Stalin to open a second front in Europe. Roosevelt and Churchill are concerned about the potential catastrophic loss of life if an allied invasion is launched prematurely. Enter the British intelligence community and their love of mystery fiction. They come up with a plan to create a "red herring" to misdirect Germany into believing that the Allied troops will attack ...more
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Casting the film. (Note, there is no film) 1 1 Jul 07, 2015 07:27PM  
Alex Baron von Roenne: the real hero? 1 8 Dec 04, 2014 07:58AM  
Bright Young Things: July 2013 Operation Mincement by Ben Macintyre 25 30 Sep 20, 2014 12:29AM  
What's The Name o...: WW II espionage & misinformation [s] 2 28 Jan 19, 2012 11:37AM  
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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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More about Ben Macintyre...
Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond

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“What is the use of living if you cannot eat cheese and pickles?” 6 likes
“Deception is a sort of seduction. In love and war, adultery and espionage, deceit can only succeed if the deceived party is willing, in some way, to be deceived.” 3 likes
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