- Ben MacIntyre
- 4 Mushroom Heads
One April morning in 1943, a sardine fisherman spotted a corpse floating in the sea off the coast of Spain. It was the body of a British Soldier and if set in train a course of events that would change the course of the Second World War. This is the true story of "The Man Who Never Was".
Operation Mincemeat was the most successful wartime deception ever attempted, and certainly the strangest. It hoodwinked the Nazi espionage chiefs, sent German troops hurtling in the wrong direction, and saved thousands of lives by deploying a secret agent who was different, in one crucial respect, from any spy before or since: he was dead! His mission: to convince the Germans that instead of attacking Sicily, the Allied armies planned to invade Greece.
With so many Abwehr agents operating around the Spanish part of the Mediterranean, it seemed such a simple concept. Obtain a dead body, dress it in military uniform, secrete some plans to it, and have it wash up on the Spanish coast. Things didn't always work out the way it was planned; at one stage, even some German officers doubted the veracity of the plans.
The brainchild of an eccentric RAF officer and a brilliant Jewish barrister, the great hoax involved an extraordinary cast of characters including a famous forensic pathologist, a gold-prospector, an inventor, a beautiful secret service secretary, a submarine captain, three novelists, a transvestite English spymaster, an irascible admiral who loved fly-fishing, and a dead Welsh tramp. Using fraud, imagination and seduction, Churchill's team of spies spun a web of deceit so elaborate and so convincing that they began to believe it themselves. The deception started in a windowless basement beneath Whitehall. It travelled from London to Scotland to Spain to Germany. And it ended up on Hitler's desk.
Ben Macintyre, weaves together private documents, photographs, memories, letters and diaries, as well as newly released material from the intelligence files of MI5 and Naval Intelligence, to tell for the first time the full story of Operation Mincemeat. He tells the story in all its incredulity. This is a story that had to be told. It is funny in places, macabre in others and totally incredible throughout. A must read for the avid Spy-thriller reader.
Rating: 4 out of 5