On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. D-Day was a stunning military accomplishment, but it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. It was the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, ensuring that Hitler kept an entire army awaiting a fake invasion, saving thousands of lives, and securing an Allied victory at the most critical juncture in the war.
The story of D-Day has been told from the point of view of the soldiers who fought in it, the tacticians who planned it, and the generals who led it. But this epic event in world history has never before been told from the perspectives of the key individuals in the Double Cross System. These include its director (a brilliant, urbane intelligence officer), a colorful assortment of MI5 handlers (as well as their counterparts in Nazi intelligence), and the five spies who formed Double Cross s nucleus: a dashing Serbian playboy, a Polish fighter-pilot, a bisexual Peruvian party girl, a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming and a volatile Frenchwoman, whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire plan. The D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled, and their success depended on the delicate, dubious relationship between spy and spymaster, both German and British. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is revealed here for the first time.
With the same depth of research, eye for the absurd and masterful storytelling that have made Ben Macintyre an international bestseller, "Double Cross "is a captivating narrative of the spies who wove a web so intricate it ensnared Hitler s army and carried thousands of D-Day troops across the Channel in safety."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-14
- Reviewer: Staff
“Any method of seeking the truth can also be used to plant a lie.” Therein lies the root of the brilliantly dangerous Allied plan (which MI5 called Double Cross)—recounted by Macintyre with the same skill and suspense he displayed in Operation Mincemeat and Agent Zigzag—to throw off the Germans and launch an assault at Normandy on June 6, 1944. The key to the plan—convincing Germany that the impending attack would come either at Pas de Calais or in Norway—was the careful manipulation of five double agents, each feeding misinformation back to their German handlers. Polish zealot Roman Czerniawski volunteered his services to his German captors, only to defect to Britain and become “Agent Brutus.” Serbian playboy Dusan Popov (“Agent Tricycle”) became one of MI5’s most prized assets. Failed Catalan chicken farmer Juan Pujol (“Agent Garbo”) badgered both German and British intelligence services into accepting him, eventually becoming the linchpin of the D-Day ploy. Lily Sergeyev (“Agent Treasure”), a high-strung Frenchwoman, had the opportunity to blow the whole operation with a single punctuation mark, while Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir (“Agent Bronx”) transformed from a gambling Peruvian society girl to solid double agent. Macintyre effortlessly weaves the agents’ deliciously eccentric personalities with larger wartime events to shape a tale that reads like a top-notch spy thriller. Photos, map. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Ltd. (July)