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Codename Tricycle - The True Story of the Second World War's Most Extraordinary Double Agent (Dusko Popov) [Paperback]

Russell Miller
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Aug 2005

A wealthy lawyer, debonair ladies' man, consummate actor, and courageous gambler, Dusko Popov played the role of playboy amongst the top echelons of British society to become one of Germany's most trusted spies. In fact, he was one of Britain's most successful double agents, and, some say, the inspiration for James Bond. With full access to FBI and MI5 records, along with private family papers, his incredible adventures can now be told authoritatively for the first time.

Recruited by the Abwehr in 1940, 27-year-old Popov immediately offered his services to the British. His code-name was Tricycle. Throughout the war he fed the Germans with a constant stream of military 'intelligence', all vetted by MI5, and came to be viewed as their most important and reliable agent in Britain. But when he was ordered by the Abwehr to the United States to report on the defences at Pearl Harbor, J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, failed to heed his warnings, distrusting all spies and detesting Popov in particular, whom he considered to be 'a moral degenerate'.

Facing the danger of exposure, arrest and execution on a daily basis, Tricycle went on to build up a network known as the Yugoslav Ring, which not only delivered a stream of false information to Berlin but also supplied vital intelligence to the Allies on German rocketry, strategy and security. After the war Dusko Popov was granted British citizenship and awarded an OBE. The presentation was made, appropriately, in the cocktail bar at the Ritz.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico (4 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844130886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844130887
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 252,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Russell Miller is an award-winning journalist, scriptwriter and author based in the United Kingdom. The movie "Lorenzo's Oil", starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon, was based on a feature he wrote for the Sunday Times Magazine. His first book, "Bunny, The Real Story of Playboy", was voted the best non-fiction book of the year and his biography of L.Ron Hubbard, exposing the lies promoted by the Church of Scientology about its founder, was the subject of ferocious litigation around the world and was eventually withdrawn from publication in the United States. Russell is currently working on a biography of Field Marshal Slim, the hero of the Burma campaign in the Second World War.

Product Description


"For anybody interested in the spider's web of war-time deception, in which Popov lighted like an iridescent butterfly, this Tricycle is worth a ride" (Christopher Hudson Daily Mail)

"As intriguing and nerve-wracking as [the] subject's career" (Jeremy Lewis Sunday Times)

Book Description

A gripping and colourful portrait of a celebrated, glamorous, and daring double-agent - possibly the inspiration for James Bond - who epitomised everything we associate with the life of the spy.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Legend Lives 18 Jan 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have already reviewed Popov's own memoir, Spy Counter Spy. This book leans, inevitably, heavily on that work, while also drawing on other sources, both open and once-secret, now "declassified".

The writing keeps the interest, for the most part and tells the tale of Dusko Popov, Serbian playboy and WW2 double agent, who kept the Abwehr guessing as he funnelled rubbish and disinformation from British intelligence (rather, counter-intelligence) while picking up what information he might from the German side. The Abwehr, in my opinion, very likely knew or strongly suspected that he was working for the British, but who knows what that master of intrigue, Admiral Canaris, might have been up to in his most secret and labyrinthine plottings? Wheels within wheels etc...

The book relates (as does Spy Counter Spy) how Popov, in the immediate aftermath of war, tried to find his Abwehr friend (and, in the end, British agent) Johnny Jebsen, whom he had known since university at Heidelberg, only to have to track down Jebsen's Gestapo killer. Unable to kill him in cold blood, he beats him up in a wood. Popov's horror at the massive devastation in Germany caused by British and American bombing (and far far worse than the London "Blitz" and other attacks on the UK) is also chronicled.

This book goes beyond Spy Counter Spy (published in the early 1970's) and tells a little more about Popov's postwar business wheeling and dealing and his two wives (the first, an 18 year old, when he was about 50...). He died in the Balearic Isles not so long after his memoirs appeared; he was survived by his still young and beautiful Swedish second wife.

This book is worth reading, especially by those with an interest in the Abwehr or WW2 espionage generally. The typeface is far too small but that is its main, perhaps only fault. Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars you're always learning 4 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not quite sure how, but I have found that I'm reading book after book on the 2nd WW. Some are rather too detailed but 'Codenamed Tricycle' is one of those that sails along at a significant pace with only relevant information necessary to tell the true story. A damned good book which offers a few surprises about the 'backroom war' which we were never made aware of. A good read for those interested in subtefuge/war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stranger than fiction 2 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Who would trust a Balkan playboy? Well, not J. Edgar Hoover for a start! Read the book to find out what could have been avoided if he had.
This is really the inspiration for James Bond, a man who lived a sybaritic life of luxury with casinos, beautiful women and danger at every turn. Even his name "Dusko Popov" is as good as a Flemming creation. In war time Europe he spent money like it was going out of fashion, but risked his life as a double agent, even going back to his German handlers after the FBI had bungled his cover. As with all double and triple agents of WWII, it is hard to sift legend from fact, as deception at every level was intrinsic to the game. Popov's story is amazing even if only half of it is true.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable - but it's true 31 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If this were a work of fiction one would discount it as being too far fetched. But one constantly has to remind oneself as one reads with amazement that every word is true. What a cool headed and courageous man he was. Only now do I know just how much we owe to "Tricycle" and the other Double Cross agents who risked their lives, not once, but over and over again, daring to travel into Germany and meet Nazi warlords too. It's amazing too to realise how great a part the British wit and sense of humour played in ultimately defeating a zealous and humourless enemy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dam good read! 4 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After initially struggling to find a copy of spy/counter spy I settled on this book, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed.

Certainly would recommend this book purely out of admiration for the `work of tricycle` who can only be associated as perhaps the inspiration for Ian Fleming's James bond.

The work of the British intelligence during the war is intriguing and clever to say the least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a brave man 28 Jun 2014
Amazing -. Some of the things he did, answer other GWII espionage questions that have so far gone unanswered. If he had been a Brit or a Frog they would have made a film about his exploits.
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