Thursday, November 29, 2018

Quit at 80%: "Double Cross" by Ben Mcintyre

Quit at 80%: Double Cross: the true story of the D-Day spies by Ben Mcintyre, 2012, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

I quit this audio book at the 80% completion point because I could never get into it. I just now saw that McIntyre also wrote the Kim Philby book I listened to in 2015, A Spy Among Friends. I enjoyed that book and the Cambridge spies sections of this book were the most interesting.

This just dragged on. I was expecting interesting Spy Guy stuff about the Normandy invasion and tricking the dirty rotten stinking no-good filthy nazis. Instead, we get minutiae concerning the agents, double agents, and triple agents the English were running. Stories about their girlfriends, married girlfriends, gambling, drinking, debts, clothes, mustaches, teeth, and every other damn thing.

How can the danger and terror of living among the dirty, rotten, skinking, no-good, filthy nazis be tedious and boring to read about? You can argue most of wartime is boredom punctuated with terror but a book should be more interesting.

Anyhoo. McIntyre writes plenty of details about the spies. The strategies employed in using those spies was interesting. The beginning of the war had great espionage success by the Brits. People in occupied Europe were all too willing to spy on France and sent lot of information over. But, once the dirty rotten stinking no-good filthy nazis consolidated they rolled up many of the spies, turned the spies, or assumed the spies identities.

England cultivated more spies. Germany cultivated more spies. England caught most German spies, killed them, and pretended to be them. New German spies would travel to England and immediately surrender. England had plenty of dudes and dude-ettes who sent Germany true data. "chicken feed", to keep the dirty rotten stinking no-good filthy nazis thinking the spies were theirs.

Yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm getting bored even typing about it. Try the book if you are REALLY into WWII history.

1. I read Soldier of Orange back in 1995 or 1996. The author escaped Holland and worked in England with the British. He remained part of the Dutch military but the Dutch were forced to work in England under English control using English resources. The author and his Dutch colleagues had a large group of spies working in Holland and were constantly receiving coded radio reports on what the dirty rotten stinking no-good filthy nazis were up to.
1.A.. But, most of those reports were just filed away. The English either did not have time to read them, did not believe them, or did not have the people to take action on the information. Later on the dirty rotten stinking no-good filthy nazis broke into the spy cells and when Dutch spies trained in England parachuted into Holland the had Germans were waiting for them on the drop zone.
1.B. The author became very frustrated with the English. On one occasion he came took a small boat ashore to a city dock in Holland in search of a colleague he was to meet. He arrived during a foggy evening and kept his Dutch military uniform on. Wearing civilian attire meant being shot as a spy and he figured the poor visibility, the Dutch uniform's similar color schemes to German uniforms, and the absurdity of walking around on a quay  in occupied Holland would see him through.
1.C. On that brief night excursion he did walk by a few people. One of those pedestrians gave him a surprised or confounded look. A few months later the author was drinking in a English bar - as he often did - and met the same guy who recognized his uniform that evening. The guy told the author that he was very pessimistic about Holland's survival living under the thumb of the dirty rotten stinking no-good filthy nazis. Seeing the author walk around in uniform on Dutch soil gave a massive burst of hope and encouraged him to escape to England.

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