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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 September 2014
Ben MacIntyre is a master when writing about what appears to be a favourite topic, espionage and related activities during WW2. He has authored several books within this field.

Rather than a book that is primarily about an individual or a specific 'Operation', the subject here is the longer term and loose project known as XX which was a short way of writing 'Double Cross' and which dominated Allied efforts from 1943-45.

It was long understood by both sides that there would at some point in time be an invasion of mainland Europe. When it was to happen and where would depend on a number of factors but it was first deemed essential that the number of successes that Hitler's Germany was to see would diminish and that Allied strengths and capabilities would have to be much greater than during the first three years of the War. The turning point came in 1943 when the Allies won at Tobruk, Sicily was successfully invaded and offered a foothold in Italy and, by no means least, when Germany was losing more submarines than they were sinking merchant vessels and the disaster of Stalingrad put paid to Germany's plan to link up with Japanese troops.

The Double Cross project involved a great many ideas each of which was intended to mislead and confuse the enemy, create doubts and weaknesses and otherwise gain whatever advantage was possible. Operation Mincemeat, the subject itself of another book by this author, was just one part and the use of double agents and using Germany's own methods of turning agents and radio operators against their own country was used with great success and without any suspicion ever being raised. The book covers many of the different ideas that were employed. It also includes some of the Enigma story, without which it would have been impossible to assess and understand German reactions to the various events.

Due to its wide coverage, it provides an excellent retrospective on the ideas, their implementation and execution and sometimes the problems that were to be encountered. There is a degree of summarisation in order to cover those parts of the overall plan which the author believes best delivers the concept; 'Agent Zigzag' another of MacIntyre's books relating a specific agent's part in the overal scheme is of almost similar size to this which provides an indication of the degree of compression applied.

An excellent read which covers much of the Intelligence-led Allied actions of the last half of the War.
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on 19 October 2016
Having lived during WWII in Bletchley Park and knowing a little about this history, it is great to be able to read the whole truth as to what happened, it is so unbelievable the Germans were so taken in, if this was made into a film many people would think it a comedy, I had some chuckles at the antics these very brave people got up to.
It was very saddening not finding out to JJ such a brave man.
I have already recommended this book to a lot of friends and to some who are Volunteers at Bletchley Park as I am, so they can fully understand about these very eccentric people.
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on 30 January 2013
I could not believe that so many oddballs were employed as agents (spies). It was the insight, it seems, of the Double Cross team (the XX) that judged - successfully it seems - who would make good agents.

We think of spying as being in a risky business, but the losses to the spy team were much less than, say, an equivalent number in the army.

The backroom boys of the XX team were a bright bunch; but they had what I would call `a good war'. Meetings were often held in top class hotels, and the working atmosphere was rather like that of a good club committee (cricket club terminology was often used).

The XX work was assisted by the gullibility of the German spy team. I was surprised by the corruption here - for example cash that was intended for their agents was often funnelled-off to support the comfortable lifestyle of the German managers.

The Normandy DD landings were assisted by XX work insofar as German army divisions were held in reserve around Calais for too long.

I enjoyed Ben Macintyre's writing - everything is clearly expressed - with more than a touch of ironic humour where appropriate. That said, descriptions of agents, false agents, double and even triple agents, underline the almost surreal world in which they existed.

I was pleased to note that the practical work of the code-breakers at Bletchley Park is seen as invaluable.

I recommend this book as a different perspective of the 2nd World War.
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on 10 August 2017
Wow! How on earth could anyone give this book less than five stars. You can certainly ignore anyone who says it was boring. What a bunch of old curmudgeons! MacIntyre has given us a highly enjoying and gripping read. What a cracking book. I look forward to reading other books by the author.
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on 12 October 2013
I watched a documentary about this on tv and immediately bought the book. Completely gripping and better than most spy fiction I've read - of course, the truth is stranger than fiction but what amazes me is how all of this was kept secret; seriously - dummy planes, tanks, aircraft carriers, beggars belief.

The D-Day spies were a species apart; larger than life and so much more interesting. How dared they - I asked myself many times if I could have done what they did, and with such accomplished conviction. I have no idea.

Riveting, fascinating and highly recommended.
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on 27 May 2017
A riveting account of how the British duped the Germans , a bewildering cast of characters , it reads like a brilliant piece of fiction , the art of making great research come to life . The many what ifs , the duplicity of many people involved in this , a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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on 23 February 2017
Bought as a gift for my brother who enjoyed other Ben Macintyre books, Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat. Arrived from the seller in good time, well packaged and at a great price. Expecting my brother to enjoy this book as much as the others.
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on 26 May 2017
Tremendous read about a fascinating episode in the history of WW2. Well done Ben McIntyre another cracking read.
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on 20 March 2017
husband enjoyed
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on 22 August 2017
What a brilliant story
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