Saturday, February 20, 2010

Five best books on British military deception

Nicholas Rankin is the author of A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars (2009).

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about British military deception.

One title on the list:
The Man Who Never Was
by Ewen Montagu
Lippincott, 1953

Operation Mincemeat, designed to divert German attention away from the Allies' impending invasion of Sicily in 1943, involved planting false papers on a genuine corpse outfitted to be a British Royal Marine, "Maj. William Martin." The body was dropped in the ocean off the coast of Spain; when it washed ashore, the Germans soon discovered what seemed to be plans for an invasion of Greece and Sardinia. Mincemeat worked perfectly—the Nazis took the poisoned bait and rushed to bolster their Greek defenses. A novel published soon after World War II told the tale of the operation, but readers had no idea how close to the truth the improbable story was until the appearance a few years later of "The Man Who Never Was." Lawyer Ewen Montagu, who had been the naval-intelligence representative on the Twenty Committee during the war, was given official permission to write the book after a reporter began digging for the half-buried facts in the fictional version. Montagu produced a genuine wartime thriller.
Read about another book on the list.

The Man Who Never Was also appears on Ben Macintyre's top six list of true-life spy stories.

--Marshal Zeringue