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on November 9, 2015
This is not a novel. Though there are a few James-Bondish characteristics to a couple of the principles, it's more of dry re-telling of "double-agent" realities from WWII, at least those being 'run' by British Secret Service, primarily in continental Europe (and a few in Russia). This is not to say boring, far from it. I was totally compelled to keep reading it, once i started. A lot of things are bought up here that you probably never heard before, such as the source of the term "Double Cross".

Though this brand of espionage apparently served the Allies quite well, one of the main tensions in the book is how the whole program was often hanging by the thread of a spider-web. Plus, not everyone in British secret service agreed that they should be doing this or that it could possibly work at all, without a tremendous blowup and backlash.

Very Informative.- Excellent book!
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on August 6, 2012
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 13, 2012
Americans' views of the Second World War have been dominated by films, books, and television specials about the role that U.S. troops played in the fighting. Even today, more than half a century after the war ended, we tend to believe that it was our ingenuity and industrial might and the sheer guts and persistence of American soldiers and sailors that defeated Nazi Germany -- and, to borrow a phrase from the preceding Great War, "made the world safe for democracy." This is just one of a great many signs of our insularity and the widespread belief in the so-called exceptionalism of our nation.

However, serious historical studies have long since established the truth that Stalin's Soviet Union carried a much larger burden than ours. It was the German defeat at the monumental Battle of Stalingrad (July 1942 - February 1943) that was the true turning point in the European war. That victory alone cost the Red Army more than 1.1 million casualties; in the war as a whole, 26.6 million Soviets died. (U.S. deaths totaled 418,500.) And research in more recent years, as hitherto secret archives have been opened to the public, has revealed the seminal role of the British Secret Intelligence Services, both MI5 (counterespionage) and MI6 (foreign intelligence) that made possible the success of the U.S.-led Normandy Invasion on D-Day (June 6, 1944).

If you have even a cursory knowledge of World War II, you're probably familiar with the names George Patton, Omar Bradley, and Dwight Eisenhower. It's highly unlikely, however, that you've ever come across any mention of Elvira Concepcion Josefina de la Fuentes Chaudoir, Roman Czerniawski, Lily Sergeyev, Dusko Popov, Juan Pujol Garcia, and Johnny Jebsen. In their own way, these six European double agents who were "turned" or recruited by the British played roles as large as those of any American general in the success of the invasion that opened up the Western Front.

Because British intelligence, working through these six extraordinary individuals in the Double Cross System, managed to mislead the Germans about the date and place of the invasion, McIntyre writes, it "was a military sucker punch. Senior German commanders were not only unprepared but positively relaxed." Everyone in a key position on the Nazi side, including Hitler himself, had bought the elaborate deception that kept powerful German forces locked up elsewhere, expecting Anglo-American invaders in Norway, the French Atlantic coast, and, most of all, in the Pas de Calais peninsula in Northern France, convinced that the Normandy action was simply a diversion. As we all know, of course, the real Normandy invasion was a desperate and bloody battle nonetheless, anything but a certain victory for the Allies. Eisenhower and Montgomery, who led the invasion force, later acknowledged that if the Germans hadn't been fooled, if they had reinforced their troops on the line in Normandy, the invasion might well have ended in a massacre of Allied troops.

As Ben McIntyre writes in Double Cross, "the D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled. They included a bisexual Peruvian playgirl [who was heir to a guano fortune], a tiny [and fanatically patriotic] Polish fighter pilot, a mercurial Frenchwoman [who loved her little dog Babs more than any person], a Serbian seducer, . . . a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming," and a Danish-German Anglophile whose sideline business of currency and commodity manipulation would have put Catch 22`s Milo Minderbender to shame. What is most astonishing about the highly unlikely stories McIntyre tells in this detail-filled account is that they're all true.

Double Cross is McIntyre's third book about British intelligence during World War II. His previous books -- Operation Mincemeat and Agent Zigzag -- relate equally improbable exploits, which are nonetheless also completely true. The earlier books, both bestsellers, were fascinating to read, filled with all the tension of superior thrillers. In Double Cross, McIntyre attempts to tell a vastly more complex tale, encompassing a veritable army of characters, both British and German, and a bewildering sequence of interconnected events. He comes up short. There's simply too much going on for any but the most retentive reader to follow all six threads. I was nearly two-thirds of the way through the book before I could even keep all the spies straight, let alone the ever-changing cast of their handlers on both sides.

Although Double Cross is a little difficult to follow at times, it's still a thoroughly enjoyable and often surprising read. You can be the life of any party for months, retelling the story of the British carrier pigeons who played a special role in Operation Double Cross, or the one about the Spanish chicken farmer working for MI5 who fabricated the identities of an army of sub-agents, fed the Abwehr with thousands of pages of entirely fictitious reports -- and received a German Iron Cross for his courageous and resourceful efforts to defend the Fatherland.

(From [...])
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on January 10, 2014
Relative to books about battles/generals/leaders concerning WWII, I've often felt this is a somewhat "under-documented" area. It's not that the literature about espionage isn't out there, but it's often crowded off the shelf by the boom & bang of the battles.

Macintyre knows the subject well, and writes a swift, but informative read. I bought this as a gift for one of my sons, but had a bit of concern that it might be a re-hash of his earlier "Operation Mincemeat". Same style/different book. This is more a book about on-the-ground espionage than it is about those who guided them; although the book gives a lot of space to the back-office folks as well.

I think this is a good book for anyone interested in the WWII era, but on its own merits, I think anyone looking for a good read (and not necessarily a "war book") would find interesting.
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on January 2, 2017
I've now read 2 books on the spy craft involved in bringing about a successful D-Day landing in France. This book did a very good job of describing, in detail, all that went in to making it a success. I enjoyed reading about it knowing how important were England's efforts in misleading the Nazis.
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on November 10, 2015
A terrific read about spies and D-Day and thwarting the Nazis during World War II… and it’s all true. Ben Macintyre did a marvelous job researching these men and women who did a nail-biting job getting information that literally stemmed the tide of the war. I can’t say these were average people because what they did was beyond James Bond. They really did this stuff with wit and cleverness and unmitigated bravado, not just with gadgets and guns. In fact one man, Dusko Popov, was Ian Fleming’s inspiration for Bond. Well worth your time. More than a great read.
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on September 5, 2017
This book tells the true story of a British spy ring that kept the Nazis in the dark about the impending D-day invasion of France. A motley cast of characters, their unsung heroism saved thousands of lives by deceiving the German high command about the time and place of the invasion. An interesting book that Reads Like a spy novel, almost too incredible to be believed!
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on October 16, 2017
A great read. A true incite to the mind and thinking of Herr Hitler..The planned deception and the actors in the story were most helpful and you gained understanding of the Double cross.
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on October 25, 2017
The author's style of organizing the story was tedious and hard to follow in places in the beginning, but I stuck it out to the end. Very well researched, I'll give him that, but dry as the Sahara. If you're expecting a good WWII spy story you had best look elsewhere.
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on October 12, 2017
Espionage and spy stories are one of my favorite topics to read about. Great book and great detailed overview of the British Double Cross system. I learned a great deal and highly recommend. The book is well written and flows well.
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