Apparently, whilst writing [b:Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal|655627|Agent Zigzag A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal|Ben Macintyre|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320497271s/655627.jpg|846926], [a:Ben Macintyre|32137|Ben Macintyre|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1271482179p2/32137.jpg] became aware of this strange tale of espionage and deception. I read, and really enjoyed, [a:Ben Macintyre|32137|Ben Macintyre|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1271482179p2/32137.jpg]'s Agent Zigzag in April 2013, and so didn't need much convincing to read this book too. It's not as entertaining and compelling as Agent Zigzag, however, whilst not quite as gripping, it is a story of huge significance to the way the Second World War played out. It saved lives, shortened the war's duration, and quite possibly changed the outcome. It's well worth reading
The book is full of fascinating facts about spying and deception. Using creativity, opportunity, imagination and wish-fulfilment, a cast of characters - many bizarre, idiosyncratic and eccentric - work up a fascinating tale which they hope will deceive the Nazis. It worked, and travelled from a bunker in London, to a submarine in Scotland, to the coast of Spain, and then on to Germany, finally arriving at Hitler's desk. There are many wonderful aspects to this book, highlights for me included the psychological second guessing; the shambolic nature of Germany's spying operations; the different factions at work in wartime Spain; the delicate subterfuge required by the British in the know, to convince the Germans the documents were important, whilst trying (not too hard) to retrieve them and allowing them the opportunity to get access.
The book contains some remarkable characters too, these include a British establishment Table Tennis-loving Soviet spy, explorers and adventurers, a cross-dressing Colonel, a Jewish Nazi, a German aristocrat deliberately misleading Hitler a pompous pathologist, a Welsh tramp, a racing driver, a submarine captain, and many many more. Were there more eccentrics in those days?
[a:Ben Macintyre|32137|Ben Macintyre|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1271482179p2/32137.jpg] is a consumate story teller, and as with Agent Zigzag, he tells this tale with skill, verve, and wit, and really brings the story to life, by weaving together private documents, photographs, memories, letters, diaries, and most significantly newly released material from the intelligence files of MI5. The story of Operation Mincemeat has been told before however this version is unquestionably definitive.
I am now inspired to continue to read more of Ben Macintyre's work. If you have any interest in the Second World War, spying and espionage, and/or history, then you should get a lot out of this book.