‘Operation Mincemeat’, originally written by the acclaimed writer Ben MacIntryre in 2010 is an impressive retelling of the true spy story that changed the course of World War II. Successfully adapted as a major film as well as for the stage, the book is gripping and entertaining - making a fabulous page turner and wild card choice for book clubs.
Ben MacIntryre, famous for his forensic approach to spy stories, takes a deep dive into all the materials behind Operation Mincemeat - the most ambitious war time deception operation ever attempted. Operation Mincemeat was a bizarre plan dreamed up by an RAF officer and MI5 agent, Charles Cholmondeley, who came up with the idea of using a dead body to fool the Nazis. Working with Ewen Montagu, a barrister officer in Naval Intelligence (who wrote his own account of the event in 1953 - ‘The Man Who Never Was’) the two men hatched a plan to persuade Hitler that instead of attacking Sicily in 1943 the allies were about to attack Greece.
In the early hours of 1943, a corpse wearing uniform and carrying a series of false papers is floated ashore on the South West coast of Spain, designed to catch the attention of a specific Spanish spy who was able to share the disinformation up the German chain of command to Hitler.
This bold deception plan makes a spellbinding story as MacIntryre chronicles the operation and presents the extraordinary characters involved in the deception and the creative manner in which the spies approached the operation. The Den were surprised by the spies who approached the plan as if they were writing a novel, in which the fictional characters, such as the love interest, Pam, become real characters with their own back stories. There were also some fascinating discoveries such as Ewen Montagu’s brother Ivor Montagu, who was a film maker, table tennis pioneer, communist and Soviet spy! Lots to enjoy and discover in this book as well as questions for the inquisitive reader.
If you enjoyed MacIntrye’s book the Den recommends his Cold War spy thriller ‘The Spy and the Traitor’ which can be found in the Den library or Ewen Montagu’s own account in ‘The Man Who Never Was’.