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Operation Mincemeat Hardcover – 18 Jan 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st edition, 1st impression edition (18 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747598681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747598688
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.8 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (313 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,452 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

Review

`Fascinating ...The complexities and consequences of the story that Macintyre tells in Operation Mincemeat are compelling - a tribute to his impressive abilities as a sleuth (ones that we've witnessed in his previous books) and to his capacities as a writer. He has the instincts of a novelist rather than a historian when it comes to elision , exposition, narrative and pace, and is depiction of character is vividly alive to nuance and idiosyncrasy . Like the best novelists, he understands that all people are fundamentally individual - odd and unique to themselves - and that stereotypes exist only in bad fiction, whether on the page or on screen' --William Boyd, The Times

`Ben Macintyre turns up trumps in this rollicking tale of a second world war mission to dupe the Germans by using a corpse bearing fictional military plans ... The cast of characters is irresistible, and Macintyre's enthusiasm for them richly merited ... a terrific book with exceptional photographs of everybody, including the corpse. Students of the second world war have been familiar with Mincemeat for many years, but Macintyre offers a mass of new detail, and enchanting pen portraits of the British, Spanish and German participants. His book is a rollicking read for all those who enjoy a spy story so fanciful that Ian Fleming - himself an officer in Montagu's wartime department - would never have dared to invent it'
--Max Hastings, Sunday Times

'Ben Macintyre has taken a well known story of wartime deception, embellished it, and shown that it was even more ingenious and even more risky than we had all supposed. -- Spectator, January 2010

'This true story of wartime deception is as creative and as cunning as a good spy novel.' -- Sunday Telegraph, February 2010

'Ben Macintyre skilfully breathes life into the diverse cast of characters involved in the plan, imaginatively fleshing out the colourful personalities on both sides.' -- Metro London

'Macintyre tells a 'rollicking' story with 'infectious glee'. -- The Week, February 2010

' ... they would surely applaud his skill in finally bringing all to life.'
-- Times

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. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Manly Reading TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Operation Mincemeat is history written like good fiction: hardly surprising when you consider that Operation Mincemeat itself was pure fiction to begin with.

This book tells the story of perhaps the greatest British deception operation of WWII, "The man who never was". To throw the Axis off the scent of the invasion of Sicily, a dead body was floated onto Spanish shores with a briefcase full of (bogus) secret documents. Added to other bits and pieces, it helped convince the Nazis that Sicily was only a feint, with the real invasion directed at Sardinia and the Balkans. That it worked is incredible, when you think about how many things could have gone wrong - and nearly did.

Ben Macintyre has started at the beginning, covering off all the principals of the saga - the dead man himself, Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley, the men responsible for creating the deception operation, and the various spies and spies and counter-spies on all sides, plus a cameo appearance by Ian Fleming, then-future creator of James Bond. There is a little about Jean Leslie as the (beautiful) girlfriend whose photo "Major Martin" kept in his wallet, and about Ewen Montagu's Communist spy brother, Ivor (whose wife Hell appears on the cover of some editions, for no reason I can discern save gender balance and to hint at a femme fatale narrative). Then, after all the buildup, we get a rare look into Franco's wartime neutral Spain, a hotbed of intrigue with frantic espionage being undertaken by pretty much every combatant of WWII, and by the Spanish themselves, largely, but far from exclusively, as a proxy for the Axis powers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. H. VINE VOICE on 9 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a lot more like a documentary compared to Agent Zig Zag which read like a story. Everything involved in this deception is so far fetched that if it didn't have the evidence backing it up you would think it never happened. D-Day has been written about and analysed so much and deservedly so but the Sicily invasion is often over looked. If this deception hadn't worked and the invasion had failed then the war may have been very different, maybe even the Normandy D-Day pushed back.

An incredible story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By GordonD on 11 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story of 'Operation Mincemeat' was first told in the 1953 book 'The Man Who Never Was' by Ewen Montagu, one of the Naval Intelligence officers who came up with the plan. Back then, however, much of the background information was still top secret, so Montagu had to leave out - or in some cases, even falsify - many of the details. Now that the files have been declassified, however, Ben Macintyre is able to tell the complete story.

And what a story - so incredible that it sounds like something out of a spy novel. Take a dead body, dress it in military uniform and plant fake papers on it to persuade the Germans that a forthcoming invasion will take place somewhere other than the actual target, then set it adrift so that it will wash up in neutral Spain as if it had been the victim of an air crash. The end result was that Allied casualties were far lighter than they might otherwise have been.

Even if you've already read 'The Man Who Never Was', you will learn much from this book - including the identity of the dead body who became Major William Martin, which Montagu was not allowed to reveal. Highly recommended.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 26 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is by far one of the very best "contemporary" historical accounts I have read for ages. It flows seamlessly linking the characters and describing them in such an absolutely interesting way that you feel that you know them all personally. This is done simply with great skill. It takes great skill to keep you interested in characters now sadly long gone whose backgrounds and life style now seems so alien to our own. We owe much to those unsung heroes who never received the recognition they richly deserved. This book is a tribute to them. It rises above most books of its ilk by having been thoroughly and comprehensively researched. You never ever get the feeling that anything has either been missed out or made up. An excellent gripping read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gelman on 6 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
During World War Two spying and intelligence played an important role.The British attached much importance to this aspect and spared no means in order to achieve substantial success.The purpose was dual:to surprise the Nazi enemy and to save the lives of as many combatants in battle as possible.
"Operation Mincemeat"was one of those deceptions which have eventually surprised the Nazis into believing that an invasion od the Allies would take place not in Sicily but in Greece.This great hoax was the brainchild of a Jewish barrister, Ewen Montagu,and a RAF officer who concocted a cocktail of deception involving a list of eccentric characters.Among them wasa famous forensic pathologist(whose style of life was bizzare),a gold-prospector,a submarine commander, three novelist and a tranvestite spymaster.
The whole deception plan started beneath Whitehall.Montagu was looking for a corpse of someone who was supposed to carry classified documents on his body.These papers were to be the proof that the Allies had invasion plans for Greece.But where do you look for a suitable corpse? Enter Sir Bernard Spilbury,a senior pathologist at the Home Office and pioneer of forensics.With the help of another colleague,Spilbury located the corpse of Welsh young man who was mentally deranged and poisoned himself.Thus,the whole procedure of arranging a forged identity of this man started.It was an arduous journey and all this was meant to build a plausible story for the Nazis.Another man working for the British intelligence designed the canister which would contain the corpse of the fictitious Major William Martin.Montagu and his RAF officer would then deliver the canister to a British submarine commander whose mission was to drop it in Spanish waters.Why Spain?
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