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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turning history of WWII espionage
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...
Published on 27 Aug 2010 by John Middleton

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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great, but Kindle version slightly disappointing
Customer Video Review     Length:: 3:19 Mins
A great story, well researched and well told. However...

This is my second Kindle book (ignoring free books) and I must admit to be slightly disappointed. The photographs, showing three to a page, are too small. I would have thought it possible to make each photograph full page in the e-book version. Also, there are occ-asional odd...
Published on 9 Oct 2010 by Nick


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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A page-turning history of WWII espionage, 27 Aug 2010
By 
John Middleton (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story That Changed the Course of World War II (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.

Some interesting questions are asked about why the Germans swallowed Mincemeat (and later, deception ops related to D-Day) whole; and the answer might be that the Abwehr, the German Army's military intel, was quite strongly anti-Hitler. Sadly the potential role of Admiral Canaris as Abwehr head is only hinted at here.

There are then a look at Operation Husky itself - the invasion of Sicily which Mincemeat went to so much trouble to mask - and a recap of the lives after the event of the various principals, which is interesting and provides a little closure. The case is argued that Mincemeat was a hinge in the development of WWII, and if the case is not quite made, then doubtless an entire book could delve into the military impact of the success of Husky on WWII.

What can be said, is that rarely can so little "total cost 200 pounds" have saved so many, who might otherwise have died on the beaches of Sicily.

We know how the story ends, but you don't read history for a twist in the tale. Like Agent Zigzag, this book is an enthralling read, full of fun facts about spycraft, military deception, and the multitude of characters - real characters, from adventurers to cross-dressing colonels, table tennis aficionados to Jewish Nazis - who were not perhaps, fit to fight a war with their fists, and so settled for using their wits instead.

If you are are interested in WWII history or spycraft, then this is a must read
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible account of deception, 9 Aug 2010
By 
E. H. (England) - See all my reviews
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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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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant, 26 Jan 2010
By 
Alec (Letchworth Garden City, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Operation Mincemeat (Hardcover)
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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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 22 Jan 2010
By 
Mr. Pj Williams (cardiff uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Operation Mincemeat (Hardcover)
brilliant book, well written and flys along like a thriller, might not appeal to the historical purist but for someone delving into intelligence during world war two and want somewhere to start this is perfect. really creates a picture of the protagonists and the scenario. bought mine in the lake district and couldn't put it down. you wont regret the purchase. an excellent book by a great storyteller. have just bought his previous book zig zag on the strength of this
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A factual account of a classic example of deception, 8 April 2010
By 
D.Kravic (The Caribbean) - See all my reviews
Necessity is the mother of invention and the need to minimise casualties in an attack on a fortified target is justifiable grounds for this operation which,at another time and in different circumstances, would most certainly be unsavoury.Years ago I read Ewen Montagu's "The Man Who Never Was" and I always felt "uncomfortable" with it. Given Montagu's panache for deception,I always felt that we were not given the full/real details of the operation. But this understandable and should not be held against him. After all,intelligence work by its nature precludes full disclosure of events, even after 60 years.It is noted that Cholmondeley "Chumly" ...(Oh, the English and their pronounciation..never pronounce a word the way it's written),maintained his silence to the end observing all confidentialities. And that perversity produced by Hollywood with Clifton Webb in the starring role, albeit with a cameo appearance by Montagu,which I think is a betrayal of those men whose dedication ensured a successful and relatively low casualty landing in Sicily ...but then that's Hollywood for you.
My congratulations to Ben Macintyre for his depth of research, especially the profiles of the many characters like Hillgarth et al.Macintyre cannot be praised too much for his endeavour in bringing into the public domain the details and yes,the emotions of one of the most thrilling episodes of World War II. In a nostalgic mood, I visited the grave in Huelva about 36 years ago and I just stood there in my shoes and I wondered ..I wondered ..who really lies in that grave. Now, with full disclosure ...I have a name.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READS LIKE A FAST-PACED THRILLER, 6 Feb 2010
By 
Paul Gelman "PAUL Y. GELMAN" (HAIFA , ISRAEL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Operation Mincemeat (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? Because there were many who were in love with the Nazi regime.It is a well-known fact that the British agreed to pay huge sums of money to the Spanish leader so that he would not join Hitler's forces.In addition, there were some very rich German families who were ardent supporters of the Nazis and many of them were engaged in the Great Game working for the Germans.These had good connections with the Spanish police and other authorities,therefore Spain would be an excallent place to drop the body.
On the morning of April 30th,1943,a sardine fisherman spotted the corpse of the British fictitious Major floating in the sea off the coast of Spain and set in motion a number of events that would change the course of the war.An autopsy performed by a Spanish doctor confirmed that the corpse "fell in the water while still alive,showed no evidence of bruising,and drowned through asphyxia caused by submersion"(p.205).The body was placed in a wooden coffin and returned to the care of the British vice consul.At this point the rumour about the body was already gaining speed and the Germans in Spain heard about the suitcase which was attached to the body and which contained the forged documents showing the Allies' intentions.This was when the whole process of convincing Berlin that the documents were genuine started.There were some ironies in the whole story:the British were drmined to give the Germans the suitcase.Another irony was that the poor Welsh chap got a funeral which was attended by many, while in his real life he was barely known.The Germans turned for help to one of their most trusted spies,a Spanish air force general officer who had various connections in the military.This was the turning point and nine days after arriving in Spain,the forged documents were in Berlin.Among them were letters addressed to General Alexander and Admiral Cunningham;another addressee was General Eisenhower.
The whole affair spared the lives of perhaps tens of thousands of combatants and of the 160000 soldiers who took part in the invasion of Sicily more than 153000 were still alive at the end.This was the result of the deception, logistics,strength,secrecy and surprise and all these were the result of the fertile imagination of a team of spies led by an English lawyer(whose brother, we are told,was a communist who spied for the Russians.These knew about this web of deception from its inception).
This book is written in a very dynamic style.The characters are extremely well depicted and there is action and intrigue on every page of it.The research invested in this book is excellent and it will definitely be enjoyed by any history buff and professional alike.Five cheers for this superb book!!!!!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and at times unbelievable, 17 Oct 2010
By 
Thrud Fan (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Review of Kindle version.

The story of Operation Mincemeat has to be one of the most incredible of WW2. There were times when reading this book that I just didn't understand why it wasn't rumbled immediately. Some of the actions of the main protagonists are farcical and I got to thinking that, like some of the stories now coming out about the Battle of Britain, Britain didn't so much as win the war as Germany lost it.
Ben Macintyre does weave a good story around the facts and I liked his style of writing, even if it did at times wander from the main story, I like the fleshing out of the characters as it makes the story less dry.

I bought the Kindle version of this so a few words about that.
It's about 50p cheaper than the paperback but I have to say I wasn't that impressed. I should say I only have recently got a Kindle and this is the first factual book I have read on it.
There are a number of errors in the text were you suddenly get a odd character i.e. a % or something similar in a word and in a few places there are two hyphens in a very short word. The photos in the book are clear but the wording with the photos is very small, and although I could read it others may struggle. So on balance I wish I had got the paperback version, Kindles seem to be more suited to novels. Still 4* for an absolutely fascinating read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My first e-book...., 9 Nov 2010
By 
lifeclearout (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is the first book I've read from beginning to end electronically (on a Kindle). I wanted to try a page turner before tackling anything heavier and Agent Zigzag was a brilliant read, so I opted for this. (It was also sensibly priced, unlike many of the titles in the Kindle Store).

This is another great story well told, though the material feels a little thin in places. Before the end of the first chapter I'd forgotten I was reading it on a Kindle and was only really reminded when the photos appeared.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far-fetched...but true!, 11 Sep 2010
By 
GordonD (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story That Changed the Course of World War II (Paperback)
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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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great, but Kindle version slightly disappointing, 9 Oct 2010
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Length:: 3:19 Mins

A great story, well researched and well told. However...

This is my second Kindle book (ignoring free books) and I must admit to be slightly disappointed. The photographs, showing three to a page, are too small. I would have thought it possible to make each photograph full page in the e-book version. Also, there are occ-asional odd hyph-enation of words which makes read-ing ra-ther odd. I suspect this is an artefact from the conversion process.

Other than that, recommended.
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