Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Review: Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben MacIntyre

Often people say that a nonfiction book reads like a novel, but seriously this one does! It reads like a spy thriller! In fact, more than one novel was based on this true story. I had frequently said how it's sad that history classes never tell students about the really fascinating, cool, interesting history. But this is is a really neat history story that I actually did hear about in 12th grade history class. British intelligence planted false information on a dead body which they then floated into enemy territory. The Nazis got ahold of it (as planned) and believed it, and it changed the course of WWII.

The planners included not only Ian Fleming (who later wrote the James Bond novels) but two other novelists, writers of minor mysteries. They were a creative bunch of chaps who worked not only on the basic plan, but who really enjoyed creating a past and a personality for "William Martin." They invented a fiancee, financial troubles, a worried father, and a loyal patriot. They also drafted multiple versions of the letters "Martin" would be carrying that would give away the false attack plans. Often we think of war planning as very straightforward and even boring, but when there are spies, double-agents, fake spies, and disinformation, it's very interesting!

Will the body wash up where we want it to? Will it fall into the right hands? Will they find the planted papers? Will the information be passed along to the Nazis? Will Hitler believe the false plans? Will he change his defenses of Italy as a result? Well, you do know who won the war, but the machinations involved to get to that point were impressive to say the least. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, and I am thrilled to finally know all the details of this fascinating and bizarre part of WWII that I first learned about in AP European History.


Unknown said...

It is often said that William Martin did more for the war effort when he was dead.

Seems like a great book (by the way, I've heard of this operation), I will add it to my TBR list.


christa @ mental foodie said...

Usually history is not my genre, but I like reading thrillers, so this sounds like a great read since I do like non-fiction (esp if they read like fiction :) Will add to TBR!