by Ben Macintyre
New York: Crown, 2012. Pp. xvi, 400.
Illus., map, notes, biblio., index. $26.00. ISBN: 0307888754
Journalist, novelist, and historian Macintyre examines the role of Britain’s “Double Cross” program in helping to strengthen the “Bodyguard of Lies” that the Allies threw across Europe to protect the secrets of D-Day.
The “Double Cross” program was an MI-5 project that managed to “turn” every German agent in Britain, making these enemy spies useful conduits for conveying to the enemy what the Allies wanted them to believe, and thus mislead them about many things, most notably the secret of D-Day. But some of the “turned” agents had originally agreed to spy for the Reich in order to work against it, becoming voluntary double agents for the British. Macintyre uses the lives and work of the five volunteer agents who made by far the most important contributors to the Allied cause. The most famous of these was Joan Pujol Garcia, codenamed “Garbo”, a Spaniard who began feeding bogus information to the Germans even before he was recruited by the British! The book is full of close calls, secret rendezvous, penny pinching bureaucrats, sometimes inept intelligence personnel (mostly German, but some British and American), seductions, marriages, and betrayals, clandestine movements, and more, including a useful “Afterward”, that tells us something of the lives of these daring men and women (who in peacetime were quite ordinary citizens), in the post-war period.
Double Cross is a lively work, far more "thrilling" than most "Thrillers", that will prove enjoyable and informative reading for anyone, layman or specialist.