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Hitler's Spy Chief: The Wilhelm Canaris Mystery Hardcover – 24 Feb 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (24 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297846876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297846871
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 779,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'¿ a brief and readable biography¿ Canaris himself emerges from these pages as a remarkable man, unassuming and modest, but with an iron will, great courage and a subtle intelligence, who thought that the dirty work of spying became less sordid if conducted by gentlemen.' (Richard Overy LITERARY REVIEW)

Fascinating (Michael Burleigh EVENING STANDARD)

... illuminating biography (FINANCIAL TIMES)

'Fascinating' (Peter Lewis DAILY MAIL)

extraordinary and very interesting (GUARDS MAGAZINE)

Book Description

How Hitler's spy chief sabotaged the German war effort

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael David Booker on 1 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Admiral William Canaris head of the Abwehr (the German Secret Service between 1935 and 1944, was described by his Russian opposite numbers as "the most dangerous intelligence man in the world!" However despite his high profile and most trusted position and originally being loyal to "the old Germany", he gradually became disenchanted with Hitler's Nazi regime and as evidence shows, he became involved in an aborted coup d'etat in 1938. As war broke out, it was his belief that Germany could not win and it is then, he commenced a "campaign from within" to sabotage Hitler's war machine.

This unique volume - the first ever biography of Admiral William Canaris to be published in English, is based on original research by the author, who having spent a vast amount of time delving into both the British and German archives, tells the fascinating story of a most intriguing man, who was personally involved in a number of what many considered to be foolish acts during the Second World War. These included a secret meeting with the head of British Intelligence in Gibraltar in 1942 in attempt to bring about peace, to saving the lives of many Jews. As Canaris's connections with Winston Churchill dated as far back as the Great War, he actually leaked the German invasion plans to Churchill and in a further attempt to delay the same invasion, he also overestimated the strength of British forces in reports back to Hitler!

Throughout the war, just one man - Reinhard Heydrich Chief of the SS Intelligence Service suspected Canaris and eventually threatened to tell Hitler of his exploits, however within a few weeks, Heydrich was assassinated by the British and Canaris lived another day. Canaris's fate was eventually sealed in the aftermath of the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bassett gives the reader a full account of Canaris life and times in just 300 pages.Bassett shows Canaris under a very sympathetic light, always trying to keep open the communication channels with his British nemesis, Menzies, the SIS head.a fight that cost the admiral his life at the end.But the book also shows Canaris as the good, anti-Nazi German and as a normal human being able to enjoy good food, music and friendship , an excellent chief for his Abwehr subordinates and a good father and husband.It is interesting to especulate how things would go for Germany and Europe if the peace-seekers among the Abwehr and the SIS would have been listened to.I wonder if Hitler knew of Canaris long peace -seeking efforts because Canaris was left undisturbed until the end of the War and was arrested and hanged under pressure of the SD ,the Nazi intelligence service and archfoe of the Abwehr. When a biography of an interesting person is well written as Bassetts's, no novel can be compared with!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andres C. Salama on 29 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
A biography of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the chief of German military intelligence during World War II. A minor military hero of World War I (during that conflict, he daringly escaped from internment in Chile to return to Germany), he continued a distinguished career in the German navy during the interwar period. He welcomed Hitler's accession to power, and he was named head of the Abwehr, but he turned against the Fuhrer as he became sure his militarism was leading the nation to a disaster. Once the war started, he tried to secretly undermine the Nazi war effort. A lifelong anticommunist, he tried unsuccessfully to end Germany's war against England, so that they could both fight together against the Soviet Union. When Hitler learned about this, he ordered him hanged along with his closest associates. Unfortunately, Author Richard Bassett is not a very good writer, and he doesn't have a lot of source material to work with (documents, memos and the like). Canaris, who was and old fashioned gentleman and a political conservative, led an obviously interesting life, but here he comes off as a quite unsympathetic figure, both devious and naïve at the same time. In his murky dealings during World War II, he tried to bite much more than what he could possibly chew, and end up paying a very high price for that. Also, in the book we never get to learn the real Canaris - perhaps fitting for an intelligence chief.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ashencrump on 4 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
The author believes that Canaris deliberately helped the Allies and makes a convincing case. Canaris' love of Spain and the timing of his visits there make an interesting argument. However, it would not be too difficult to create an opposing hypothesis and occasionally one feels that the author is pleading a case rather than being objective. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating story. There are odd bits of annoying repetition and slang ("thanks to" rather than "as a result of" is perhaps the most obvious) but it is a book well worth reading, especially to add to one's knowledge of the internal German opposition to Hitler.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Lawlor on 2 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well researched, a serious study.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cover 4/5 Says it all really

Purchased this book in the hope of more photos of Wilhelm Canaris but disappointed as the majority of photos are of other members of the German high command. Looks a good read so I will get started and report more as I go ...

Alexander of the Allrighters and Ywnwab!
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