Friday, December 20, 2013

“Double Cross” by Ben Macintyre – The Brain Behind the Brawn

Double Cross by Ben Macintyre (Book cover)
Virtually anyone who has studied the Second World War is familiar, at least in some capacity, with the events of June 6th, 1944, when the Allies took to the beaches of Normandy in an attempt to start pushing the Nazi war machine at the Western front.

Though there were certainly many casualties, on the whole, many consider the operation to have been a resounding success, with the number of lives lost being far less than what was expected.

So what precisely allowed the operation to take place the way it did? As it turns out, the whole thing was such a big success thanks to the efforts of those in the Double Cross system, charged with turning Nazi spies into double agents. Thanks to meticulous misinformation the Allies gained the window of opportunity they needed to invade low-resistance zones and place their mark on history.

Double Cross by Ben Macintyre basically looks at the whole operation in great depth, but this time, from the perspective of those involved in the Double Cross team, whose role has been less and less recognized throughout the years.

I have to say that before coming across this book, I had never heard about the Double Cross team and was completely oblivious to their role in the invasion of the Normandy beaches.

As you can imagine, this brought a whole new side to a story that has become rather well-known, and Double Cross details the planning and intelligence-related events which allowed history to take the course it did.

In other words, we learn about what happened before and during June 6th from the perspective of those who were involved in the Double Cross system. We learn about how they meticulously planned misinformation and made the Germans think that the attack would occur at Calais rather than at Normandy.

As is becoming the trend with such historical books, the author doesn’t simply present one dry fact after the next, being content with telling us what happened and when. Rather, Macintyre turns the whole ordeal into a story with characters and a narrative, basically novelizing the historical events.

Of course, he took great care to preserve historical accuracy, meaning that in here you will only find solid facts around which a bit of fiction was weaved. It will make you care for the participants of Double Cross and the soldiers who gave their lives on that fateful day.

All in all, the book is filled with knowledge that those interested in World War II will definitely benefit from, telling about an overshadowed and yet extremely important aspect of one of the grandest military operations in history.

Double Cross by Ben Macintyre (Book cover)
Touching more on the strategic aspect of warfare than anything else, it will certainly entertain those who are more interested in studying battles as chess matches, though there is also much for the reader who prefers to learn about real and individual stories from WWII. I can do nothing but recommend it to history aficionados.

Ben Macintyre (Author)

Ben Macintyre

Personal site

Ben Macintyre is a British author, columnist and historian who is currently also a writer for The Times newspaper. He touches on all topics from current affairs in the world of politics to controversies in our history, and he is the author of numerous novels, including The Napoleon of Crime and The Man Who Would be King.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. Picked up some ideas for my own website as well.