Double Cross by Ben Macintyre and The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Double Cross book review

I read Double Cross, by Ben Macintyre. The non-fiction novel tells the stories of the spies in the British Double-Cross system. These colorful and eccentric double agents successfully fooled German intelligence into thinking that the D-Day invasion would target locations other than Normandy and that the invasion would occur later than it actually did. During and following D-Day, German forces were tied up with false threats of Allied troop movements. The misinformation fed by the spies saved thousands of lives. The book was fairly interesting overall. The author took great relish in describing the debauchery of some of the spies, and how on multiple occasions the whole double-cross system came close to being exposed. The spies were not enigmatic; they were loud, selfish people, often partying or engaging in affairs. It was amazing that their often outlandish reports were accepted by their German spymasters literally and without scrutiny. This book reinforced the importance and advantage of information in war, and knowing what your enemy knows. The Allies had broken Germany and Japan’s ciphers; the Allies knew the Axis’ plans, they knew that all of German’s spies in England had been turned into double agents, and they knew that the Germans trusted the agents completely. One interesting tidbit I learned is that the people in the US intelligence system disapproved of the spies’ questionable behavior and thought they were not to be trusted. Instead of turning enemy spies into double agents, they felt they should be eliminated.

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