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180 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping the Germans in the dark...and pigeons in the air.
Before you begin reading this book, take a look at the map at the very front. It's a map of northern France and southern England. Notice how close the cities of Dover and Calais are; the sea distance is about 21 miles. Meanwhile, continue west to the widest gap between France and England which is about 100 miles. That's the distance between Portsmouth, England and the...
Published on June 1, 2012 by Jill Meyer

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68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superficial overview
The deception efforts of D-Day are one of my favorite parts of modern history, and I have read a good amount of the published works on the subject. I believe this story is a very complex and multi-faceted tale, and not really a good candidate for a 300 page book.

The Good Stuff

* The material the book does present is fascinating. The narrative is...
Published on June 16, 2012 by Andy in Washington


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling, August 6, 2012
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This review is from: Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Hardcover)
Ben MacIntire's DOUBLECROSS is a dazzling look at the secret war, "the bodyguard of lies", that kept the Germans confused and off-balance in the run-up to D-Day. It is full of characters that would be too implausible in fiction: the bisexual Peruvian girl who partied through Paris, a Polish ex-fighter pilot, a crazy Frenchwoman obsessed with her lapdog, and the key player, a Spanish chicken farmer who used to run a one-star hotel in Madrid. The Germans thought they were all valuable spies embedded in Britain, and all were turned by MI5 and played as double agents.
MacIntire does a terrific job with this material. At times you will be amazed at the denseness of the penny pinching British. MI5's refusal to bring a small dog into the country for a valuable double agent because such an action would violate the quarantine laws is a decision that will leave the reader gasping! Angry beyond words, the woman almost betrayed the entire operation. At times like that, the spymasters look like devious, miserable little men.
This book should be read before AGENT GARBO by Stephen Talty, which expands on the career of Juan Pujol, Agent Garbo, the Spanish chicken-farming genius, giving much more detail of the role he played in orchestrating German confusion. Talty's book is also terrific.
Both books wonderful additions to WWII spy literature.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, but at times superficial, book about the D-Day spies, July 16, 2012
This review is from: Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Hardcover)
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Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, by Ben Macintyre, is a very interesting book about five double agents recruited by Great Britain during WWII. As part of Operation Bodyguard, these double agents were part of the complex deception that kept the Normandy Landings a secret. The Germans were taken completely by surprise and D-Day became a turning point in the war.

Macintyre certainly tells the story well enough. He was able to draw on declassified documents from British intelligence and numerous primary and secondary sources. He does a good job of putting the Double Cross spy program in context with the overall operational plans of WWII.

Macintyre gets his point across, but the writing was a little telegraphic for me, however. There are certainly details that are shared, but there is little analysis and the character studies are often superficial. This is likely exacerbated by the fact that Macintyre is telling the story of all six spies in a relatively short book. He covers a lot of breadth, but we pay the price in terms of depth. Looking at this now, there are a number of biographies of the individual spies mentioned in Macintyres book. Now that I have been introduced to the subject, I may well look them up.

Still, the material is so compelling and the characters from the spies themselves to the British and German spymasters are so interesting that this matters little. If you know the story already, you might not be so entranced, but for someone who has never heard of Double Cross, this is very captivating stuff.

The book was a quick and easy read about a relatively unknown part of WWII history. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, September 27, 2012
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An intense account that is difficult to believe, but lends credence to the phase the "Truth is stranger than fiction'. This story is filled with eccentrics, degenerates and just plain wierdoos that played the dangerous game of being double agents. These players and their creative handlers pulled of the greatest deception of the 20th century that resulted in the defeat of Germany and the end of WWII. A good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why Double Cross was just "okay"., July 29, 2013
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It wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. It seemed to lumber on and was even a bit tiring at times. Kinda confusing too with so many names.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Summer Read, June 29, 2013
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This review is from: Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Hardcover)
Cleverly written book full of detail and interesting tidbits leading up to D-Day. Macintyre manages to give you enough information to form an image of the Double-Cross spies in your mind, complete with personality, without getting lost in the weeds like McCullough and other history writers.

Like a best friend, you can set the book down and return to it at the beginning of any chapter without skipping a beat making this book, in my mind, a perfect summer read. This is due to the nature of Macintyre's writing and his ability to weave a series of small stories together to tell a bigger story where the next iteration builds off all that have come before it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Double Cross, October 13, 2012
This review is from: Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Hardcover)
The major characters in this narrative are: Dusan "Dusko" Popov also known as Tricycle, a Serbian playboy and inveterate womanizer; Roman Czerniawski also known as Brutus, a diminutive Polish fighter pilot; Lily Sergeyev also known as Treasure, a mercurial Frenchwoman excessively devoted to her dog Babs; Juan Pujol Garcia also known as Garbo, an eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming; and Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir also known as Bronx, a bisexual Peruvian playgirl with a distinct gambling problem.

These fascinating and unusual characters are not the main protagonists of a little known novel by John Irving or the main principals in an upcoming Quentin Tarentino movie. They are in fact five of the best British double agents during the lead up to WWII and were instrumental in furthering British and Allied goals in deceiving Nazi Germany over a period of several critical years.

As these agents volunteered or were compelled to spy for Germany, they were quickly recruited or volunteered to be double agents for MI5, the British Intelligence agency. Although they were a highly diverse group of individuals, they shared the requisite attributes of a good spy for the Germans - they were not British yet they could move around Britain and continental Europe without attracting undue attention and they had theoretically some reason as to why they would be willing to spy for the Nazis.

Their job was to gather any information that would be useful to Germany and to recruit other spies, they seemingly accomplished by acquiring a vast network of informers and transmitting thousands of reports to their German handlers. In reality their spy networks were made up of a vast array of fictitious characters and the data they radioed to their German contacts was made up of either low-level information or casual misinformation.

As the war progressed these individuals would become critical to the Allied war effort as their overwhelming responsibility was to convince the Germans that the focus of the invasion of the continent by the Allies would be near Calais and not the beaches of Normandy, a hundred miles to the southeast. The success of this ruse was critical to limiting the number of casualties involved in such a dramatic scheme and possibly to the success of the plan itself.

The details of this intriguing story make for alternately comic and tragic episodes. But whether someone in Gibraltar is impersonating General Montgomery - the presumed leader of the invasion of continental Europe, or an agent is purposely giving the Germans critical information knowing it is too late for them to do something about it, the end result is an entertaining series of incidents with very serious historical consequences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Operation Fortitude, April 9, 2013
This review is from: Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Hardcover)
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Ben Macintyre's Agent Zigzag told the story of a single double agent during WWII. His next book, Operation Mincemeat, was a bit broader in scope, covering an intelligence operation designed to plant false information with the Germans. This book, Double Cross, seems to me like a compilation of interesting, unbelievable and in some cases completely ludicrous facts that MacIntyre couldn't fit into his previous books. Broader still in scope, it aims to cover the entire Double Cross system run by the Twenty Committee, with a focus on five of its most quirky agents.

The first third of the book reads more like a collection of anecdotes than a coherent narrative. Each of the five spotlighted agents is introduced, along with their handlers on both sides of the conflict and two or three code names, so impatient readers may find themselves confused. The story becomes tighter and more engaging as D-Day approaches. In the end, however, I'm left wondering exactly how instrumental these temperamental and extravagant spies were to the D-Day invasion, in spite of the self-congratulatory tone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When is the action going to start?, September 13, 2014
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From a historian's or researcher's point of view, this is undoubtedly a masterful work. For a more general reader, it is much longer than it needs to be to tell the story. One must pass the 60% read mark before the story of how the double cross spies managed to fool the Germans into staying near Calais at the time of D-Day and the Normandy invasion and thereby make the invasion a success. The first half and more of the book is occupied in telling the life stories of the spies and their handlers in England, and of the less than keen German spy network that thought that these spies were working for THEM. I just found the run-up to the invasion to be much too long.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The lunatics that saved the day, September 29, 2012
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Well written in journalistic style, this work recounts the nearly implausible: the outrageous personalities snapped up and put under wraps as double agents during World War II in favor of the British. Filled with improbably characters, Double Cross provides not only a historic recounting of events, but a look at the psyche and motivation of the players involved in story. If it were not for the provision of photographs, one would find the tale hard to believe. Resist the temptation to try to breeze through the book, while it's possible, it may make keeping track of the great number of characters difficult.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You couldn't make this up, July 18, 2014
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A fascinating story of the five very different and rather bizarre characters used by MI 5 as double agents to feed misinformation to the Germans in the years leading up to the D-Day invasion. A serious work of history which rattles along with the pace of the best spy fiction. I got through it in a matter of a few days and thoroughly enjoyed it. If this was pitched as a script and a cast of characters to Hollywood producers they would probably reject it as being unbelievable.
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Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre (Hardcover - July 31, 2012)
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