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Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 29 March 2012.
D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong invasion force. The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence - the Bletchley Park code-breakers, MI5, MI6, SOE, Scientific Intelligence, the FBI and the French Resistance. But at its heart was the 'Double Cross System', a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee, so named because twenty in Roman numerals forms a double cross. The key D-Day spies were just five in number, and one of the oddest military units ever assembled: a bisexual Peruvian playgirl, a tiny Polish fighter pilot, a Serbian seducer, a wildly imaginative Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming, and a hysterical Frenchwoman whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire deception. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is here revealed for the first time. Under the direction of an eccentric but brilliant intelligence officer in tartan trousers, working from a smoky lair in St James's, these spies would weave a web of deception so intricate that it ensnared Hitler's army and helped to carry thousands of troops across the Channel in safety. These double agents were, variously, brave, treacherous, fickle, greedy and inspired.
'Superb. Meticulously researched, splendidly told, immensely entertaining and often very moving' John le Carre, on Agent Zigzag
'For anyone interested in the Second World War, spying, romance, skulduggery or the hidden chambers of the human mind, it would be impossible to recommend it too highly' Mail on Sunday, on Agent Zigzag
'A rollicking read for all those who enjoy a spy story so fanciful that Ian Fleming would never have dared to invent it' Max Hastings, on Operation Mincemeat
'Macintyre has a journalist's nose for a great story, and a novelist's skill in its narration ... spellbinding' Mail on Sunday, on Operation Mincemeat
Publication date: 27/03/2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
|Publication date:||27th March 2012|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, History,|
Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He is the author of eight previous books including Agent Zigzag, shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Galaxy British Book Award for Biography of the Year 2008, and the no. 1 bestseller Operation Mincemeat. He lives in London with his wife and three children. Photo © Jerry BauerMore About Ben Macintyre