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Double Cross: The True Story of The D-Day Spies Paperback – 30 Aug 2012

262 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Double Cross: The True Story of The D-Day Spies
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  • Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: The Most Notorious Double Agent of World War II
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  • Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story That Changed the Course of World War II
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (30 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408830620
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408830628
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,352 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


Utterly gripping (Anthony Beevor, Daily Telegraph)

I have seldom enjoyed a spy story more than this one, and fiction will make dreary reading hereafter (Max Hastings, Sunday Times)

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

Addictive and deeply moving (Independent)

Enthralling ... A book so gripping that I even found myself reading it in lifts, frequently emitting snorts of incredulity. A reminder that heroism can be found in the most unlikely places (Evening Standard)

This fascinating book finds a vivid and very human path through one of the greatest moments in our history (Daily Mail)

Book Description

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

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Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia on 10 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Double Cross" is a fascinating account of how a group of German spies were `turned' by the British and the plot to deflect the Nazis away from the real D-Day landing site. Working closely with their Allied handlers this small handful of people were able to spin a tale of deception that kept Hitler looking the other way while the British, American and Canadian governments plotted a way into occupied France to liberate Europe. Even with all their excellent planning the run up to D-Day was incredibly tense and the deception was still no guarantee of success. In fact many men were hurt or killed during the Normandy landing. I shudder to think what the outcome could have been without these spies and the plot masterminds.

Macintyre does a great job of guiding us through the multiple spies, their Axis and Allied code names and their coordinated spy masters. There's a chart at the beginning designating all the players but Macintyre takes pains to clarify everyone throughout the text. It can nonetheless be a bit muddy to keep straight. The back stories of agent are fascinating and show their humanity. Each spy has their own unique reasons for being a double agent. Though some are idealists others seem like mere adventurers, some as opportunists, others just want to stay off the front lines or make some easy money. I believe that no matter what their initial reasons for turning double agent in the end they decided to do what was right for themselves, their families, and the world. They did so at great personal danger.

Macintyre has a sly sense of humor when describing some of these character's foibles.
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120 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Martin TOP 1000 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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