- Hardcover: 328 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (5 Jan. 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0002177862
- ISBN-13: 978-0002177863
- Package Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 3.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,050,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
All the King's Men: The Truth Behind S.O.E.'s Greatest Wartime Disaster Hardcover – 5 Jan 1988
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I read this book with deep interest and was pretty well convinced by its argument but then read "Derricourt, the Chequered Spy", the latter a masterpiece of diligent research in my view. "Derricourt.." more or less destroys "All the King's Men" if one believes it. Sometimes I wish I had never looked for truth in all this controversy. It is impossible to find in my view and I am left feeling naive and realising that then, just as now, where there are people there is skullduggery.
I still can't make a proper judgement. All I can say is read both and seek others if you wish to form a reasonable opinion.
The more I read, the more I respect the bravery of the agents, working and looking over their shoulders for the Gestapo.
The Prosper group were sacrificed as were others for a bigger agenda.Real power is always "behind the scenes".
Very difficult to get a copy of this book as it was out of stock continiously.I managed to get a copy eventually.
Moving on to the book, I thought the narrative was quite gripping, it kept you moving along, as you built the case for the prosecution, and was almost two thirds through, when he started to lose me, and started to make bold assumptions, that had no back up, implying that you had to accept his research till now had convinced you to take the leap with him. There was much evidence to maybe suggest, but not to convince. Unfortunately in the fog of war, this is likely to be the case, and to suggest that there was forces in place on the British side that were ACTIVELY supporting the Nazis, was a little too far for me. That aside, there is much evidence to suggest that a double agent type case was actually lost by the British, now that I can believe. Postwar stories all maintain that we never would fall for that or be caught by a sting, but I do believe that the perfidious Gaul, Dericourt, did deceive the British into trusting him, and was playing both ends to his own benefit. It had a major effect on a key SOE circuit, and resulted in a great many of his countrymen to die. He took in a number of senior British colleagues who should have know better, but were promoted beyond their abilities.
The book is a worthy addition to the many titles on the subject, but not read in isolation, as it creates a dangerous conspiracy theory that I cannot see. Carelessness and incompetence, yes.
Both were shocking.
Unfortunately, the excellent Timewatch programm is no longer available in any form; but the book is.
The book deals with the now well known betrayal of SOE's largest circuit in occupied France; the 'Prosper' circuit.
The betrayal resulted ultimately in the death of almost every member of the circuit, the names of whom, now that their stories have finally been told, have become the most famous of all of SOE's agents.
It seeks to apportion responsibility for what occurred; and ultimately makes allegations that MI6 and it's Deputy Head Claude Dansey were directly involved in the betrayal.
Marshall goes into considerable detail to justify these (very grave) claims.
He tries to unravel the story of who did what, and when, in occupied France prior to, and at the time of the betrayal. Many of the accounts by various participants conflict. And one is left with a big question mark.
One character above all stands out; Prosper's air despatcher Henri Dericourt.
Dericourt's friendly relationship with Karl Boemelberg, the Head of the S.D. Counter Intelligence Service in Paris was known of both in SOE HQ, and by the Deputy Head of MI6, Sir Claude Dansey: but Dericourt was kept in his post; one the most important posts in all of S.O.E.'s French networks.
Dericourt's prime task was to arrange details of the arrival and departure of all Prosper agents, information which he shared with his friend Boemelberg; a charge he freely admitted to when called back to London for questioning.
During his absence the arrests began which would decimate the Prosper organisation.
But in London at S.O.E. no action was taken, and Dericourt was allowed to return to France to carry on his work !!
After the war Dericourt was tried by a French court (Militaire Tribunal de Paris) in May 1948.
He was aquitted, mainly on the 'extraordinary evidence' given by S.O.E witnesses Maj.Nicholas Boddington; deputy to the Head of S.O.E. that Boddington; with the full agreement of the S.D. had been allowed to visit Dericourt in France to discuss S.O.E. matters; and return safely to London with no fear of arrest. An arrangement had been made between Dericourt and the S.D.
Clearly very high up members of the leadership of S.O.E and of the S.D. were in cahoots.
But the agents at the sharp end were, for obvious reasons, not let into the secret!
The result was a tragedy of the first order in which the bravest of men and women were betrayed by their leaders.
Marshall's book has now been somewhat superceded by the publication of 'Dericourt the Chequered Spy' by Jean Overton Fuller.
This book goes into VERY great detail, and one needs to be somewhat of an expert to follow the twists and turns of Miss Overton Fuller's quest for the truth.
I have also reviewed this book.
(See all my reviews)
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