Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Man Who Never Was: World War II's Boldest Counterintelligence Operation by Ewen Montagu

genre: non-fiction/military history

In the summer of 1943, the Allies were planning to invade Sicily.  The job of the British counterintelligence division was to convince Germany that they weren't.  The idea of "Operation Mincemeat" was born out of a long-shot idea that slowly turned into a plausible and ultimately successful con of the highest levels of the German miliary.

Operation Mincemeat?  Great name, huh?  The bare bones of the idea: get a dead man  and plant some papers on him that hopefully the Germans will end up having access to and be convinced of some "secret strategic plans," thus moving the German army AWAY from Sicily to somewhere else.

Brilliant.  And a huge long shot.  This true story, written by the man in the thick of the preparations and execution of this effort, is a fascinating one.  It involves so many different people and is such a delicious web of deceit.  As a non-military person, it's completely readable (very little skimming needed) and it's such a thin volume that I read it in a few short sittings.  I have so much more respect now for those behind the scenes, creatively saving as many lives as possible and directly influencing the outcome of a hideous war.  I also appreciated how much respect Monatgu and his fellow agents had for "the man who never was," I really enjoyed learning about how they created his persona.

A very interesting read.

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1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Wow, that sounds like a fascinating story! I admire the people who planned and executed strategies like this too.

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