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Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day Hardcover – July 3, 2012


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Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day + Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies + Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal
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Read a Q&A with Stephan Talty, author of Agent Garbo.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547614810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547614816
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Juan Pujol is deserving of this biography, which captures not only his humanity, but also his humanism. Stephan Talty has delivered a beautiful report of every impossible day of Pujol's life, and AGENT GARBO is a confirmation of Donne's devotional, that 'when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.'"
--The Atlantic

"Talty gives us an appreciably richer picture not only of Pujol but also of an interwar period that could produce someone willing and able to undertake the duplicity required of a double agent. Along the way, the author captures the chilling realities of bloody battlefields, tense war rooms and besieged London. Elegantly crafted."
--The Wall Street Journal

"A wonderful book for WWII buffs, a true-life spy thriller with about as much intrigue and excitement as you’d find in a le Carré novel."
--Booklist  (starred)

"The exciting, improbable adventures of a young Spanish spy who managed to become Britain’s most effective tool in deceiving Hitler. A lively, rollicking good read."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Epic intelligence coups of WWII unreel in this colorful caper saga. Talty’s Pujol is a captivating character with a talent for operatic confabulation, but Garbo is just the alluring lead in massive deceptions that the author likens to Hollywood productions, complete with rubber tanks, fake ships, and a Montgomery impersonator. The result is a rollicking story of wartime eccentrics and their labyrinthine mind games."
--Publishers Weekly, starred

“AGENT GARBO is the fascinating story of a man whose wit, cunning, and steely nerves made the Allied victory possible in World War II. Stephan Talty's unsurpassed research brings forth one of the war's greatest agents in a must-read book for those who think they know all the great World War II stories.”
— Gregory Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500

About the Author

STEPHAN TALTY is a widely published journalist who has contributed to the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, Time Out New York, Details, and many other publications. He is the author of Escape from the Land of Snows, the best-selling Empire of Blue Water, The Illustrious Dead, and Mulatto America.

More About the Author

Stephan Talty is the NY Times bestselling author of six acclaimed nonfiction books, as well as two crime novels, "Black Irish" and "Hangman," set in his hometown of Buffalo. He's written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Playboy, the Chicago Review and many others. Talty's ebook, "The Secret Agent," was a #1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in nonfiction.

Talty lives outside New York City with his wife and two children. You can visit his website at www.stephantalty.com.

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Customer Reviews

I must read for anyone interested in that war history.
Readaholic
The book is very well written, and Mr. Talty does a fabulous job of putting the facts together as a story.
Mr. Q
I bought the book as a gift, began to read it and couldn't put it down.
otto1936

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 59 people found the following review helpful By George Webster, Ph.D., VINE VOICE on May 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I flew over the southeast coast of England in May of 1944, I was amazed at the vast accumulation of troops, weapons, and materials for the coming invasion of France. And it all pointed to an invasion of the Pas de Calais, just twenty miles from the English coast. Only after the successful landings in Normandy did I learn that the mass of armament I saw was all fake. It fooled me, as it fooled German flyers scouting preparations for invasion, and German Generals who kept massive amounts of troops in the Pas de Calais. But Hitler was skeptical. He thought the (fake) concentration of armies opposite the Pas de Calais was a scam, and the real target was Normandy. If he had moved the German armies to Normandy, Allied troops would have met overwhelming force and been wiped out. In this well-researched and superbly-written book, we learn that Hitler finally allowed masses of German troops to remain in the Pas de Calais because he was fooled by Agent Garbo, an astoundingly clever spy working for the Allies. His real name was Juan Pujol, a Spaniard who developed a hatred for the Nazis. He determined to fight them by trickery, and he managed to meet German secret agents in Madrid and convince them that he would spy for Germany. He then went to England and volunteered to work for the Allies. His clever mind misled the Germans many times, but his triumph was convincing Hitler to keep that huge force of troops in the Pas de Calais until the Allies had landed successfully in Normandy. The story reads like a fictional thriller, and is well-worth reading.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By retired teacher VINE VOICE on June 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is gratifying to learn more about someone whose 'personal war with Hitler' succeeded to the extent that, in the view of many, it changed the outcome of WWII. I was totally immersed with "Agent Garbo" as soon as I picked up the book. It was a spy story I had not heard before, and it became even more 'real' when I purchased Richard Holmes "D-Day Experience" in order to see maps of the time. There are two pages devoted to deception and intelligence with photos of the fictitious dummy vehicles which deceived the German intelligence, and mention of the double agent Garbo who "fed the Germans a rich diet of misinformation". Thanks to Stephan Talty for a thrilling and educational true-life book which I could not put down.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Terry L on June 29, 2012
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This was an entertaining read. The story was written well (but sometimes had a little more detail than I thought necessary). I enjoy history a great deal, but if you do not, you may not like the book as well as I did. To me the book was just so interesting because of how one person could do so much to affect a war. Also, this is a character I knew very little about, so having such a person come to life as a person instead of just an historical footnote was very interesting to me to read about.

The fact that this is written more as a story than as a history book made the reading that much more enjoyable and readable.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brian Klein VINE VOICE on June 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day, is written almost like a novel in the telling of this relatively little known part of WW2 history. While I read a lot of material on WW2 it seems there is always something new to learn, and this book told me the story of Agent Garbo with flair and finesse.

If you want more of a straight, stereotypical historical account, this book is not for you. This isn't to say anything negative about the book, just to point out what kind of history book it is. Talty puts a lot of life into the story, and I found it to be an engaging read.

If you're at all interested in the history of WW2, you could do a lot worse than reading this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 28, 2012
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I tend not to gravitate toward biographies and prefer broader stories that focus more on an event than on an individual. However, this book is making me rethink my attitude. It was simply a wonderful read. Maybe it was the actual subject, but the author wove a brilliant story bringing the character to life. Again, maybe Pujol's circumstances are just that interesting, but his path toward becoming a masterful spy are intriguing and the author really did the material justice. Its not dry in any way (as some biographies I've read), but exhaustively researched and written with entertaining prose that engages the reader and jumps along. I actually had a hard time putting the book down, fairly unusual for me on a book of history.

For those unaware (as I was), Pujol was just an average guy who was so compelled by his hatred of Nazi Germany that he taught himself spy-craft and found a way to become a double agent. A Spaniard by birth, he managed to convince the Germans, the group he despised, he was on their side, then managed to ingratiate himself to the British and leverage his Germany relationship to dramatically influence the outcome of WWII. The means by which Pujol pulled all of this off is simply astounding, and the author does a great job of making the reader imagine how Pujol must have felt as he got deeper and deeper, and by extension, in a progressively more precarious position. Further, the story is so interesting one could readily see how this book would lend itself to a Hollywood blockbuster. Very highly recommended!
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