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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  12,632 ratings  ·  1,245 reviews
In 1943, from a windowless London basement office, two intelligence officers conceived a plan that was both simple & complicated—Operation Mincemeat. Purpose? To deceive the Nazis into thinking the Allies were planning to attack Europe by way of Greece or Sardinia, rather than Sicily, as the Nazis had assumed & the Allies ultimately chose. Charles Cholmondeley of M ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Bloomsbury
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  12,632 ratings  ·  1,245 reviews


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Start your review of Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
David
Jul 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Jason Koivu
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
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
...more
Manny
Jul 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 early 1
...more
Nancy Oakes
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, espionage
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.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii, england
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 Sicil
...more
Caroline
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
Amy
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
You can't make this stuff up! Or more precisely, you can which is what makes this story of espionage and deception so much fun. It is almost hard to believe it is all true.
When I first began the book, I didn't think Ben Macintyre had enough material to make an interesting story. I presumed he would be repetitive, or worse, insert his own personal 'journey' into the narrative. I was proved decidedly wrong in both cases. So many unique, colorful characters pepper the story of Operation Mincemeat tha
...more
Erik Graff
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII & espionage fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Dad was involved in the occupation of N. Africa and in the landings at Gela on the south coast of Sicily. An army cryptanalyst attached to the U.S. navy, he and his colleagues maintained ship-to-shore communications during the successful invasion. Books relevant to his experiences there and in the Pacific have long attracted my attention.

This book is an account of how the British successfully misled the Germans and Italians into believing that their European invasion plans were direc
...more
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 Allies ult/>"In
...more
Mahlon
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
You may not be familiar with the names Ewen Montagu or Charles Cholmondeley but you may have heard of Operation Mincemeat, The spectacularly successful in World War II deception that they masterminded. Mincemeat was a small part of operation Barclay the deception intended to cover the invasion of Italy. Mincemeat convinced The German High Command that the allies target would be Sardinia or Greece, rather than the actual target Sicily. The ruse was accomplished by convincing the Germans that they ...more
Tal
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Seen the documentary from Ben Macintyre.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh8D3...

Highly recommended!!!
Bou
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book by Ben MacIntyre is a very interesting and most of all enjoyable read. It almost reads like a novel. Ben MacIntyre leaves no stone unturned. I particularly enjoyed his description of the German reception of the fake documents and the aftermath of it. Also, the final chapters describes the fate of all participants in this high suspense operation, which is very nice to know.
Dana Stabenow
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hpl-s-15-in-16
An almost picaresque story about Royal Marine Major William Martin, who was lost at sea in an aircraft accident carrying important dispatches about future Allied plans in the Mediterranean. His body washed ashore in Spain and by nefarious means the dispatches were copied and forwarded to Abwehr, German intelligence.

Except that that major was no major and those dispatches were fake. It was all an elaborate plot cooked up by British Intelligence to deceive the enemy, and which disinformation Abwe
...more
F.R.
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nick Davies
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
This thoroughly fascinating non-fiction about the British WWII plot to mislead the Axis forces (and hence allow decisive invasion of Sicily) by use of a corpse washed ashore in Spain, was well-written and made for a very interesting story. I'd heartily recommend people read this to learn more about the history of that time, especially if they have an interest in the part military intelligence forces play in the 'background' of war.

It was excellently researched and an absorbing read -
...more
Tony
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Nigeyb
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 the war's duration, and quite ...more
Huw Rhys
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Amy Kannel
A little difficult to get into (at least as an audiobook), with so many characters to keep track of, but I ended up enjoying this immensely. I have read/heard/watched a fair amount about WWII, but had never before thought about the influence of espionage on the outcome of the war. It was fascinating to hear about the intelligence and counter-intelligence, the way psychological maneuvers affect battles and nations and ultimate results. The author also had some really profound statements to make a ...more
Michael Flanagan
May 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ww-2
An enjoyable read about that takes you into the world of espionage during World War II and one of the most daring deceptions of the era. It was truly breathtaking reading about the lengths that was taken to execute Operation Mincemeat.
Kay
Years back I read The Man Who Never Was, the first account of this famous WWII deception campaign, written by Ewan Montagu, who was one of the plan's two main architects. Like many, I was captivated by this real-life story of clever wartime deception. I have a keen interest in WWII deception campaigns, and Operation Mincemeat was certainly one of the finest: documents planted on a corpse that was strategically floated ashore in Spain, where German agents were apt to gain access to them. The document ...more
Peter Spence
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
An intriguing rendition of an almost incredible deception operation that helped turn the course of World War II in favour of the Allies.
A real-life "James Bond" story even featuring Ian Fleming in his official WW II spy role.
I must now read Ewan Montagu's first-hand account of the operation.
Amber Spencer
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was both overwhelmed with all the information in this book and loved how much there was to learn about so many things from WWII, including Spain’s involvement, to some degree.
3.5 stars
Jill Meyer
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
often do succeed. The year 1943 was a turning point in WW2. In the European theater, the Germans were being pushed back on the Russian front and the Allies had gained back much of what they had lost in North Africa to the Axis powers. Allied leaders - both political and military - had to decide where the next military push should be. All agreed the island of Sicily - off the coast of the Italian boot - was the place to begin working on the long sought invasion of the European continent. It was c ...more
Dawn
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-european
“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.
...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 decoy
...more
Mike Knox
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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 sug
...more
Bob Uva
Nov 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Julie
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, own
“Operation Mincemeat was pure make-believe; and it made Hitler believe something that changed the course of history.” Dropping a dead body dressed as an officer with falsified papers off the coast of Spain in hope that they would be confiscated by German authorities to misdirect them from a planned invasion of Sicily is a plot only the British secret service could concoct. And it worked, possibly saving thousands of lives. But the entire process of getting the corpse from a morgue in London to i ...more
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
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Bright Young Things: July 2013 Operation Mincement by Ben Macintyre 26 43 Jun 05, 2017 05:58AM  
Casting the film. (Note, there is no film) 1 4 Jul 07, 2015 07:27PM  
Alex Baron von Roenne: the real hero? 1 10 Dec 04, 2014 07:58AM  
What's the Name o...: WW II espionage & misinformation [s] 2 30 Jan 19, 2012 11:37AM  

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Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of A Spy Among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.
“What is the use of living if you cannot eat cheese and pickles?” 11 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.” 6 likes
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