Macintyre has seized a publishing niche, producing good, readable, popular and often funny books covering some of the more interesting stories that came out of British Second World War intelligence operations. Aided by the release of previously classified documents plus good international research, his books on `Agent Zig-Zag' and `Operation Mincemeat' established him as an expert in the field.
`Double Cross' is his best book so far. It covers the huge intelligence undertaking, `Operation Fortitude,' a long term sophisticated plan to deceive the Germans as to where and when the 1944 invasion of continental Europe would take place. In the end, `Fortitude' was an outstanding success, but it was a very near-run thing. At the core of the operation were five double agents, all of whom had to be carefully groomed and handled - and in several cases even allowed to travel back to contact their equivalent Nazi handlers.
Macintyre does an excellent job at portraying each of these individuals - who alternated from being incredibly brave, to arrogant, devious, and possibly untrustworthy. Today, several of them might be described as `bi-polar' or even schizophrenic. One self-obsessed woman put the whole enterprise and the lives of thousands of allied soldiers at risk, because of her suspicion that the British had killed her dog.
The British MI5 intelligence team are equally interesting - eccentric, tenacious, imaginative and cunning. `Tar' Robinson and his team can be seen as a key part of ensuring that the June 6th 1944 invasion of Normandy was not driven back into the sea by the Germans. If that had happened, the war would have been greatly prolonged and the shape of post-war Europe after the still inevitable defeat of Germany would have been significantly changed.
It's a very good, sometimes amusing and very informative read - five stars.