As in his earlier non-fiction book Operation Mincemeat, Double Cross is an account of the use of trickery and stagecraft by British intelligence to misinform the Nazi’s.
Double Cross reveals the role that MI5 managed double agents played in the largest deception of the war, Operation Fortitude. This was a calculated effort by the British to fool the Nazi’s into believing that the D-Day invasion would take place at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. The double agents played a vital role in disseminating erroneous information to their Germans handlers.
Considering the enormous responsibility, one would expect a crack team of seasoned spies.
If this wasn’t a true story, you’d find these characters completely unbelievable.
The five “star” spies include a passionately patriotic Pole, a South American party girl, an emotional Frenchwoman and her little dog, a creative Spaniard, and a Serbian businessman.
Although their communications sound like creative writing exercises, it was deadly serious and missteps had dangerous repercussions.
If the book has a weakness, it is that Macintyre makes it appear as if the success of D-Day was solely attributable to spycraft. (Eisenhower might have had something to say about that.) But if you are a student of WWII, you know this isn’t true, and the book rightfully highlights the important contributions MI5 and their ménage of spies made to the war effort.
Because this book covers so much ground, it is less engrossing than Operation Mincemeat, but still an excellent read.