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Double Cross: The True Story of The D-Day Spies [Paperback]

Ben Macintyre
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Aug 2012

D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit...

At the heart of the deception was the 'Double Cross System', a team of double agents whose bravery, treachery, greed and inspiration succeeded in convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong Allied invasion force. These were not conventional warriors, but their masterpiece of deceit saved thousands of lives. Their codenames were Bronx, Brutus, Treasure, Tricycle and Garbo. This is their story.

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Frequently Bought Together

Double Cross: The True Story of The D-Day Spies + Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story That Changed the Course of World War II + Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: The Most Notorious Double Agent 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: 3 x 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,302 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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Double Cross 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
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Double, double, toil and trouble 21 May 2012
By G. M. Sinstadt VINE VOICE
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but not for the general reader 20 May 2014
I had been looking forward very much to reading Double Cross as there was so much publicity in the media about the book’s revelations about the effect of the double agents on the outcome of the Second World War.

I was disappointed. The book is very well researched and is a masterpiece from the point of the history of double agents. But for me as the general reader, all that detail took me away from what I had been looking forward to- the work of the double agents and the effects of their work especially on the invasion of Normandy.
Credit has to be given to author for the amount of research done and the way it has been detailed. But for the general reader you cannot see the wood for the trees
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing spy story
This is a fascinating tale of double, triple and quadruple crossing spies, clever deceptions and how influential a small collection of misfits were in determining the outcome of... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Philip G Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Ben Macintyre.
Excellent book - very well written. Would appeal to readers who enjoy spy novels even though it isn't fiction. Absolutely amazing what they got away with.
Published 5 days ago by Liz Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting true story
Fantastic story,I I found it difficult to put it down, very interesting
Published 7 days ago by Mrs Wendy Boote
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 8 days ago by cy
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and informative read
Very enjoyable read about a topic I knew nothing about. A fascinating set of characters.
Published 10 days ago by D. Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars Macintyre delivers another hugely satisfying read.
I've read several of Macintyre's books, this one is a very good follow on to Operation Mincemeat. He once again fleshes out the bizarre group of Abwehr double agents whose timely... Read more
Published 14 days ago by joalem
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant a must read
We owe a lot to the history that the double agents created for our own safety and future.
A film should be made
Published 23 days ago by Mark Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 27 days ago by Richard Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars intelligent. 5 stars
Catching and moving, intelligent. 5 stars!
Published 28 days ago by Bohemian
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Ben Macintyre
Having read 'Mincemeat' and 'Agent Zig Zag' (in that order) I looked forward to reading 'Double Cross'. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mike
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