16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Jana L. Perskie
- Published on Amazon.com
This extraordinary historical WWII thriller is the fictional account of a true story. "Plan Fortitude" actually existed. It's goal was to influence the decision making of the German High Command by supplying their agents and other Nazi information sources with disinformation. The men who conceived and executed the plan reported directly to Winston Churchill and few were privy to it, including the British and American Secret Services. The intelligence involved was and still remains one of the war's best kept secrets and without its successful implementation the Normandy invasion would have failed. Most of the men and women who gave their lives so that the plan, and thus the invasion, would succeed will never be recognized for their valor and patriotism. Without their sacrifices the world would be a very different place today.
Larry Collins, co-author of "Is Paris Burning?," another fictional factual account of the last days of the Nazi occupation of Paris, takes the reader deep into the world of espionage, deception and betrayal that paved the way for D-Day. The Allies knew that Hitler had enough tanks and troops placed strategically in France to overwhelm the Allies and prevent an invasion of the continent. Their best bet for success was to lead Hitler and his generals to believe that the invasion at Normandy was only a preliminary to the major event which would take place a few days later near Calais. Thus Hitler would keep the bulk of his forces in reserve for the shadowy Calais invasion, which was never to come.
To pull-off this deadly game, with the highest of stakes at risk, imaginary armies, barracks, vehicles and buildings were constructed - all resembling stage props from close-up, but not from the air. Cryptographers, spies, counter spies, double and triple agents were employed, and sometimes betrayed, tortured and killed by the Gestapo for the good of the Allied cause. Catherine Pradier, a highly intelligent and very beautiful woman of half French, half British parentage, wanted very much to do something to actively serve both her countries. Her godfather, a British peer, was able to pull the necessary strings to grant her wish. He would never have done so had Catherine not possessed tremendous strength of character and courage. Catherine was trained to be "dropped" into Occupied France and assist in the sabotage of France's German-run arms industry and cause as much chaos behind German lines as possible. At best, she could hope to do her job successfully. Worse case scenario, she would be captured, tortured and killed or deported to a German concentration camp. The British government's position was clear, "Women are entitled to join in the defense of our common beliefs as are men. The war is total, not restricted to men alone." And, in fact, women were better able to move around Occupied France than men. They were less suspect and they couldn't be swept off the streets and shipped to Germany for forced labor. Catherine's job was to function as radio operator and courier for a French resistance chief. The contact who first meets Catherine when her Lysander plane lands in a French field is an agent, code name Paul. His history of espionage and counter espionage is too complicated to do justice to here. The two are immediately drawn to each other, but clearly their professional duties and obligation to their country come before everything else.
Many of the large cast of characters are historical figures: Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Dwight D. Eisenhower, various generals, government officials, etc.. The research that Mr. Collins has done is phenomenal and makes the novel read like a journalistic account at times. The fictional characters are no less intriguing and some do take their point of departure, according to the author, from actual characters who did exist. The roles they played, the work they did, are similar to the work done by their real life counterparts in the war.
This is one of the best works of fiction I have read about WWII. I simply could not put this book down. The characters have depth and the events they were swept up in are thrilling, intense and terrifying. I was left with a feeling of disquiet when I finished the novel, thinking of the real men and women involved in the actual subterfuge, never knowing the critical importance of their jobs and efforts. Individually their stories are heartbreaking. However, without them the war could have easily been lost. Larry Collins brings all of this home in "Fall From Grace."