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Double Cross Hardcover – 27 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; First Edition edition (27 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408819902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408819906
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He is the author of seven previous books including Agent Zigzag, the story of wartime double-agent Eddie Chapman, which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Galaxy British Book Award for Biography of the Year 2008. Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II, published in January 2010, is the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

(Photo credit: Jerry Bauer)

Product Description


Macintyre pulls together countless strands better than anybody hitherto, with an enthusiasm that prompts the reader to leap from page to page ... I have seldom enjoyed a spy story more than this one, and fiction will make dreary reading hereafter

(Max Hastings, Sunday Times)

Ben Macintyre has excelled himself ... an utterly gripping story. One can finish the book with the strangely proud sensation that in the Second World War perfidious Albion played the Great Game remarkably well (Antony Beevor, Daily Telegraph)

If you thought Antony Beevor's D-Day couldn't be bettered: [here is] the amazing story of the madcap spy network that bamboozled the Germans in the build-up to invasion (Mail on Sunday)

Enjoyable and engrossing ... For all its splendidly weird ploys and feints, Macintyre's book culminates in a stirring account of old-fashioned courage (Boyd Tonkin, Independent)

Immensely satisfying ... Times columnist Macintyre has done his homework thoroughly and sketches out the characters of the double agents and their spymasters with sympathy and not a little humour ... in its own way it is as true a portrait of the war as Beevor's epic (Oliver Moody, The Times)

Enthralling ... Macintyre is a master at leading the reader down some very tortuous paths while ensuring they never lose their bearings ... a book so gripping that I even found myself reading it in lifts (Evening Standard)

Exquisite entertainment (Andro Linklater, Spectator)

***** Crammed with anecdotes that will leave you laughing in disbelief ... an astonishing story of Britain's fake Nazi spies


Highly entertaining ... Macintyre is a first-class narrative historian and Double Cross is as pacy as a thriller and better written than most (Sunday Telegraph)

***** Fascinating (Daily Express)

A meticulous, thrilling account of the double bluff that paved the way for D-Day ... unfettered in the pages of history that read like the best adventure fiction, he becomes positively exuberant ... utterly gripping (The Times)

**** Grippingly enjoyable

(Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday)

**** No one does cloak-and-gun history better; Macintyre mixes a professor's research with a journalist's eye for a good story and a forensic scientist's ability to spot the absurdities of war

(Sunday Express)



Book Description

From Ben Macintyre, Number One bestselling author of Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, comes a new true story of Second World War deception

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 April 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anyone who has read anything by Ben Macintyre before will know that they are in for a treat. He is a wonderful storyteller and, in this book, he is on territory he seems to understand brilliantly and relish. The Allied military planners were working on the the great assault on Nazi Occupied Europe - the D-Day invasion would decide the outcome of the war. In order to convince the Germans that the invasion was coming where it was not actually coming, and not coming in the place where it was actually coming, a huge amount of effort was expended. There were dummy planes, tanks and even dummy armies in place to fool the Germans. There were even pigeons masquerading as German carrier pigeons (lots more on pigeons in the book - they play a larger part than you might imagine!). There were impersonators to convince the Germans that military leaders were elsewhere. Counterfeit generals led non-existent armies. Radio operators created a barrage of fake signals. Finally, there were spies. The Allies had a harder task than it appears in hindsight, knowing that it succeeded, as the targer range for a cross-Channel invasion was small. There were only a handful of suitable spots for a massed landing and it was important that the entire might of the German forces were not waiting when the Allies landed.

Tar Robertson created a bodyguard of liars - the "Double Cross System" coordinated by the Twenty (XX) Committee. They specialised in turning German spies into double agents. Every single German agent in Britain was under his control, enabling huge and co-ordinated lies to be told. The task of Operation Fortitude was to bottle up German troops in the Pas de Calais and keep them there - this ability depended on Robertson's spies.
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113 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Mar 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At the Tehran conference in 1943, the Allies laid the plans for the invasion of Europe, codenamed Operation Overlord. It was a high-risk strategy, and to maximize the chance of its success it was essential that for as long as possible the Germans should be uncertain where the invasion would take place. To this end, Operation Bodyguard was created. It was an immense undertaking, involving the construction of false tanks and aircraft, sending masses of fake radio signals and even `creating' whole dummy armies, apparently directed at spurious targets on the continent. But within this activity, the most important element of deception was that provided by Operation Fortitude. This was specifically aimed at convincing the Germans that the invasion would take place at the Pas de Calais, rather than the actual site chosen, the Normandy coast. It was hoped that when the invasion started, the Germans would assume it was only a diversion and so would not move their strong tank forces away from the Calais area, thus giving the Allies time to establish themselves on shore.

The core of Fortitude was the Double Cross system, where enemy spies were `turned' and became double agents acting for Britain. This is the subject of Ben Macintyre's book. It was a system developed by an eccentric, but brilliant, MI5 officer, `Tar' Robinson. By mid 1943, he realized that every German agent in Britain was actually being controlled by MI5 and so he could start feeding misinformation to the German handlers of the turned spies. In practice, the nucleus of Double Cross was just five agents.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By G. M. Sinstadt VINE VOICE on 21 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ben McIntyre can spot a good yarn and tell it compulsively - I never tire of recommending Josiah the Great. The author's dabblings in the behind-the-scenes stories of World War II have also been rewarding, but Double Cross is something of a disappointment.

No doubting that the five double agents (who never met) portrayed here were brave, audacious people; no doubting, either, that the Intelligence staff who manipulated them were bold and imaginative. The games they played almost certainly helped win the war, saving many lives. Equally, they gambled dangerously for the highest stakes.

While Double Cross takes the reader through the various separate stories, the fact that some of this is reworking of previously known material gives the book something of a second-hand feel. Like another reviewer, I wondered how much invention had gone into a long and detailed account of the meeting at which Tar Robertson sacked one of his agents.

Recommended for newcomers to the story but only with reservations for those with previously high opinions of the author.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After his successful publications and TV programmes on the greatest con-man Eddie Chapman, and the lead up to the invasion of Sicily Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story That Changed the Course of World War II, it is inevitable that Ben Macintyre's interest in the shadowy world of Second World War spooks would eventually lead to the biggest deception plan, "Operation Fortitude" as part of the Allies' overall cross-Channel invasion plan Overlord of N.E. Europe in June 1944.

For years the XX Committee, chaired since 1941 by John Masterman, an Oxford don and cricket fan, was set up to capture and turn German spies as double agents to fight the Nazis.
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