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The True 'Intrepid': Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents 1st Edition

19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1894254014
ISBN-10: 1894254015
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 453 pages
  • Publisher: Timberholme Books Ltd; 1 edition (November 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894254015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894254014
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,885,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By F. R Anscombe on March 12, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bill Macdonald has contributed valuably by sleuthing some of the past of the mythic character, Sir William Stephenson.

Macdonald is a journalist from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, who on hearing of the death of Stephenson in 1989, decided to investigate the past of a man who hailed from Winnipeg and was entrusted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill with serving as his intelligence czar in North America during World War II.

Fortunately for history, Macdonald was able to uncover glimmers of the truth of Stephenson's humble origins; his move to Britain during the 1920s and 1930s; and his businesses. One was steel; through the steel industry, Macdonald may have come to appreciate the Nazi commitment to expanding its military. Churchill became prime minister after the British debacle at Dunkirk. He promptly dispatched Stephenson to the U.S. Based at Rockefeller Center, Stephenson established an aggressive intelligence program and helped advise the U.S. in formation of what became the O.S.S., predecessor of the CIA. Macdonald interviewed a former Univ. of Toronto professor who directed the vital communications links conveying Nazi communications intercepts among British, Canadian, and U.S. codebreakers.

Behind the stories and myths surrounding Stephenson, Macdonald has shone light on some important, classified aspects of World War II. When I read the first edition of this book, I found the story somewhat hard to follow and strange, though also strangely plausible. For the paperback edition, a former CIA staff historian has offered an introduction, probably because he would have had the same reaction.

I am reminded of another recent book (The Secret of Hut 26) reporting how the U.S. developed computers in Dayton, Ohio for attacking Nazi codes.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By David R. Bannon, Ph.D. on April 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
MacDonald has successfully revealed much of the often clouded life of Intrepid, a man whose primary career goal was - of course - to remain in the shadows. The immensely likeable and non-descript Stephenson (Intrepid) was the penultimate spy: you wouldn't notice him in a crowd and if you did, you'd find yourself charmed and at ease. This side of the man has been overlooked in past books, but MacDonald reveals just how significant this particular trait is to an effective intelligence officer. In Stephenson, readers will learn how charm hid the great depths of intelligence, honor and violent resolve that made Intrepid a name to admire in the history of his profession. MacDonald also offers a highly-readable, compelling look at the events of Intrepid's life, keeping an admirable balance between objectivity and the thrills of a good story. David R. Bannon, Ph.D.; author "Race Against Evil."
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "puppypokey" on July 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If the 20th century was to be represented by 4 or 5 individuals, William Stephenson would have to be one of them. By this I mean that his life was incredible. He would be worthy of an interesting biography in any of the lives that he led: a scientist, a businessman or a spymaster.
The book goes into much more detail of Intrepid's life, as well as those of some of his associates than the famous Man Called Intrepid book (which is worth reading as well!). This book will inspire and awe anybody! Well researched and well enough written.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A thoroughly researched and well documented account of the quintessential North American spymaster William Stephenson. New information dispels past myths about a fascinating man who, with the help of his "unknown" agents,played an crucial role influencing the events of the Second World War.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wizard on May 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This biography of Intrepid and the BSC is considerably more current than previous ones. Stephenson, a very secretive man, probably made no effort to clarify his personal history to imaginative biographers. And the classified nature of most documents regarding his work made earlier efforts hit or miss. This volume offers a chance to see into the man and his work illuminated by more aggressive digging into his past.

Rather than a linear story, much of the the presentation is the result of many interviews presented one after another. This makes for duplication of information throughout the work, and this redundancy might bother some readers. But actually, this style parallels good intelligence work, where agents gain confidence in information when it is reported by a variety of informants independently. A fun read, though scary to think how naive America and Britain were regarding the need for determined intelligence at the outset of World War II.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book researches and chronicles in great detail the life of one man who, while obscure and unknown, played a pivotal role in the unfolding of World War 2. This book tells an important history and heightens my appreciation of some of our stories that has never been adaquitely told.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stu on February 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With the best of intentions, I’m supposing, this author has set out to reveal the real Man Called Intrepid. Instead, he demolished previous author’s efforts by creating doubt about their accuracy to go on and establish himself as an "authority" on Sir William (Bill) Stephenson.
The book is tiresome with his facts and leads us to the outside fog of confusion. The author provided no real story; it was more like reading a correction everyone’s class assignments. For the first time ever, I eventually closed down this book on my Kindle and bought another.
Whether or not my review is published, the book was a waste of money and a huge disappointment in my quest to learn more.
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