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Man Who Never Was: World War II's Boldest Counterintelligence Operation (Bluejacket Books) Paperback – January 23, 2001
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Agent Montagu tells the story as only an insider could, offering fascinating details of the difficulties involved--especially in creating a persona for a man who never was--and of his profession as a spy and the risks involved in mounting such a complex operation. Failure could have had devastating results. Success, however, brought a decided change in the course of the war.
About the Author
- Publisher : Naval Institute Press; First Printing edition (January 23, 2001)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1557504482
- ISBN-13 : 978-1557504487
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,499,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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One might consider a major omission in the film was that the overall deception plan was to have the Germans anticipate the landings in the Eastern Med and in the west against Corsica and Sardinia. Thus, positing the hopeful cutting off of Sicily to dry off the rest of the Italian vine all while allowing for further movement against either or both middle Italy/ Southern France (actually the object in Operation ANVIL in mid 1944) to be attached from potential bases on Sardinia and Corsica.
Further, the less obvious results of MINCEMEAT were very modestly treated in the film. The post war evaluations of the actual German beliefs and responses to it, e.g., Romell being sent to Greece along with tons of armor and artillery as well as Seaborne reconnaissance assets from Sicily to the Aegean, etc, could certainly have been included with minimal effort and shown the multiple accomplishments beyond protecting HUSKY.
The movie may have been designed for more drama, occupying space that might have allowed for better expansion of the actual activities and outcomes, but yet reading the book is always better than the movie. For that reason alone, if you happened to have enjoyed the NETFLIX version, you'll enjoy the complexities that are included in this, original Montagu book.
Finally, that the voice over at the beginning made two references in one sentence that really and succinctly lays the entire effort out: the wilderness of mirrors (former head of CI at CIA, James Jesus Angleton's classic phrase for counterintelligence operations) and bodyguard of lies ( famously attributed to Churchill in the 1970's book of that same name by Anthony Cave Brown). Attribution of those two wonderful phrases should have at least warranted sourcing of of the phrases.
In the mid-1950s Hollywood produced a movie by the same name starring Clifton Webb as Montague. The movie stays fairly close to the facts with one major exception. In the movie, the Germans hire an Irish spy to determine if Martin (and thus the contents of his briefcase) was real. In reality the Germans made no such check. The movie is first rate; but the book provides details absent in the movie. For example, the book provides the contents of the papers Martin was carrying as well as translations of pertinent German documents. Both the book and the movie are well worth the reader's (or viewer's) time.
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2021