Book Review: The Mediterranean Double-Cross System, 1941-1945


by Brett Lintott

New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. xiv, 230. Gloss., notes, biblio., index. $150.00. ISBN: 0415788617

Cloak and Dagger Operations in the Mediterranean Theatre

In his first book Dr. Lintott, who has worked in the history of intelligence and deception, opens by noting that while there are many books about intelligence operations during the Second World War, treatments of the Mediterranean region are rather poor, as the focus in the war against Germany is largely on events in northwestern Europe. To a large extent this is because, overall efforts to cover planning and execution of the D-Day operation were more consequential than any initiatives in the Mediterranean, thus resulting in many more treatments of Allied programs to secure intelligence on German forces and intentions, round up and “turn” enemy agents, and to provide cover for Allied plans to land on the continent.

Lintott notes that while that Britain’s insularity virtually closed it off to German infiltration and reconnaissance, the situation was quite different in the sprawling Mediterranean region, with several neutrals, diverse populations, and relative ease of movement, even across the lines. He attributes the initiation of deception and double cross operations in the region to the initiative of Archibald Wavell, a veteran of some brilliant deceptions during the previous war. Lintott goes on to discuss the development of effective intelligence gathering “double-cross” and deception operations in the theatre

Lintott offers some interesting case studies, at times involving agents, double agents, and even triple agents from several countries. One interesting wrinkle, was the problem of leaking evidence of “sabotage” to the enemy in order to lend agents credibility. He also notes that the deception warriors in Britain often slighted or neglected their comrades in the Mediterranean, at times intruding into their bailiwick with operations that didn’t necessarily coordinate well with local initiatives. Lintott also offers us some important criticism of German intelligence efforts, which he argues were quite poor, but says less about efforts by the Italians and other players in the region.

A volume in the Routledge series “Studies in Modern European History”, The Mediterranean Double-Cross System, which could have used a couple of maps, is an essential read for those with an interest in events in that theatre or intelligence operations, as Lintott offers us a look at undertakings involving different problems in a different environment.


Note: The Mediterranean Double-Cross System is also available in several e-editions

StrategyPage reviews are shared with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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