I feel like I am on a WWII kick. I promise that I have been reading other things as well, but with the discovery of Macintyre’s interesting WWII books which detail the lives of spies and intelligence secrets… well, I might be on this kick for a while. Operation Mincemeat offers a different side of the WWII story. It does talk about specifics campaigns but focuses on the Intelligence community’s unique role in the strategic gathering and decimation of information. Macintyre’s book was well written and well researched. You can tell that his background is in newspaper journalism because each chapter is short and snappy, like a well written article.
Operation Mincemeat planted false information on a dead body about the location of the allied attack on Italy. It was crucial that the information reach the Nazi intelligence network living (and some would say working closely) within Spain. Though Franco was supposedly neutral, he allowed both sides to play their spy games. On the surface the operation would seem straightforward, but not so. Acquiring a body, inventing a past, making sure the body is retrieved… it is all a work of numerous people who were fed only pieces of the plan, which had been organized by Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley.
This book started out well paced and continued the excitement until the last page. I also appreciated that in the paperback edition I read, the author adds a bit more to the story trying to verify and re-verify certain facts in the case. I appreciate how Macintyre outlines the idiosyncrasies of the various characters (and they ARE characters) involved in the plot. There is also so much information that I felt in awe on almost every page. The things a civilian (who wasn’t even born, well, whose parents weren’t even born) doesn’t know. I think anyone who hasn’t really found a non fiction that excites them, will really enjoy this particular book. It was reminiscent of a truly great war film: filled with good guys, bad guys, intrigue, and truly nail biting moments where one wonders if there is any way the operation will turn out as planned.