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The Legend Lives
on 18 January 2008
I have already reviewed Popov's own memoir, Spy Counter Spy. This book leans, inevitably, heavily on that work, while also drawing on other sources, both open and once-secret, now "declassified".
The writing keeps the interest, for the most part and tells the tale of Dusko Popov, Serbian playboy and WW2 double agent, who kept the Abwehr guessing as he funnelled rubbish and disinformation from British intelligence (rather, counter-intelligence) while picking up what information he might from the German side. The Abwehr, in my opinion, very likely knew or strongly suspected that he was working for the British, but who knows what that master of intrigue, Admiral Canaris, might have been up to in his most secret and labyrinthine plottings? Wheels within wheels etc...
The book relates (as does Spy Counter Spy) how Popov, in the immediate aftermath of war, tried to find his Abwehr friend (and, in the end, British agent) Johnny Jebsen, whom he had known since university at Heidelberg, only to have to track down Jebsen's Gestapo killer. Unable to kill him in cold blood, he beats him up in a wood. Popov's horror at the massive devastation in Germany caused by British and American bombing (and far far worse than the London "Blitz" and other attacks on the UK) is also chronicled.
This book goes beyond Spy Counter Spy (published in the early 1970's) and tells a little more about Popov's postwar business wheeling and dealing and his two wives (the first, an 18 year old, when he was about 50...). He died in the Balearic Isles not so long after his memoirs appeared; he was survived by his still young and beautiful Swedish second wife.
This book is worth reading, especially by those with an interest in the Abwehr or WW2 espionage generally. The typeface is far too small but that is its main, perhaps only fault. Recommended.