Steve Anderson has become a first rate author of little-known stories of World War II. His earlier "The Losing Role" (fiction) and "Sitting Ducks" (nonfiction) were fascinating treatments of Germany's Operation Greif, a secret plan to infiltrate the Allied lines during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.
"Double-Edged Sword" is the story of Spaniard Juan Pujol Garcia, who ran a sham espionage network with the code name "Garbo." For more than three years, double agent Pujol and his network of phony subagents fed false information to the German Abwehr, culminating in a massive deception about the D-Day invasion. It's an absorbing story that the author chose to narrate as "creative nonfiction," where he used meticulously researched facts, filling in the blanks with actions and dialogues that could be reasonably surmised. As such, the story reads much like a novel.
Pujol's motivation was his hatred of fascism. After seeing the fascist regime of Francisco Franco emerge after the Spanish Civil War, he was repulsed at the thought of Europe being dominated by fascist Germany. Offering his services to Great Britain, he was repeatedly rebuffed and dismissed, but eventually he was accepted and proceeded to begin operations. To his Abwehr handlers, he was agent "Arabel." For the next three years, he posted or radioed a staggering amount of misleading information to the Germans.
The story is full of remarkable tidbits of history. Most amazingly, although the Germans thought he was operating from London, for the first few months of operation, he was actually in Lisbon, Portugal. Eventually, the British brought him to London, and the Abwehr never caught on to the deception. Another interesting piece of the story was the role of Pujol's wife Araceli, who with enthusiastic complicity, prodded him to approach the British with his double agent scheme.
Kudos to author Steve Anderson for another superb treatment of a little-known operation of World War II.