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MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Operation Mincemeat

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory - Ben Macintyre This book was written by the same author who wrote "Agent Zigzag". (see http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/114905626 for my review)I have to say that I am really pleased by the excellent research, the blending together of many threads into a coherent and suspenseful story, and how the character of each of the "players" is artfully revealed. The writing is really well done, and I am already looking at the library for more books by Ben Macintyre. For those of us who grew up on stories from WWII, the true-to-life plot of "Operation Mincemeat" is no stranger. The book "The Man Who Never Was" and then the subsequent movie by the same name were written about Operation Mincemeat in the years immediately following WWII. Ewen Montagu wrote the book, which had fictionalized elements inserted, and appeared in the movie which also had deliberately misleading information added in. The plot had been too recently carried out to be fully revealed so soon after the end of the war. But Ben Macintyre was able to get access to the full file of Operation Mincemeat from none other than Ewen Montagu's son, Jeremy. It seems that against regulations, Ewen Montagu had saved the entire casework from the operation and had it in his personal possession!So now the real story can be known, even some elements that those involved were sure would never be revealed.During WWII, Ewen Montagu and Charles Chomondeley (pronounced "Chumly") of MI5 hatched a plan to provide misinformation to the Germans about the invasion of Sicily, code-named Operation Husky. Everyone knew that an Allied attack on southern Europe would probably begin in Sicily. But what if false information could be fed to the Germans to make them think that that attack would come through Greece or Sardinia? If somehow that germ of misinformation could be passed up through the German ranks, it would save the lives of thousands of Allied soldiers in the attack. If Hitler believed Greece or Sardinia was the point of attack, he might move soldiers and tanks to those locations to protect them, and thus leave Sicily less defended. But how to provide this misinformation, yet make the Germans believe it was real? Montagu and Chomondeley proposed obtaining a corpse, planting letters on the corpse that specifically indicated Greece and Sardinia as the focus of the Allied attack on southern Europe, and then putting the body off the coast of Spain so that the Germans (who had a strong presence in Spain) could get hold of the information. A corpse was determined to be the best "spy" because a real spy might be tortured to provide the actual information. Secret papers provided the basis for revealing the plan of the Allied attack and even a "feign" attack on Sicily as a diversion. Spain was the best location for the body to be found because Spain, although neutral, was a hotbed of German spy activity. It was thought that having the body be found by the Spanish would make it less obvious that the British actually wanted the Germans to have access to the information in the secret papers. The operation was approved and put into motion. The identity of a one Major William Martin of the Royal Marines was created out of thin air by Montagu and Chomondeley. To make him believable to the Germans, he must have all the personal affects that indicated a real and believable life in the world. He was provided with letters from his father, a bank manager about an overdraft, pictures of his fiancee, letters from his fiancee, and assorted tickets and receipts for various purchases. An unmarried secretary at the MI5 office wrote the love letters from "Pam", Bill Martin's fictional fiancee. A different secretary provided the photograph used for Pam. Clothes were purchased for Bill Martin, and Chomondeley wore them for several weeks to again provide authenticity. The level of detail for each aspect of the operation is almost lovingly detailed. Somehow you can see that the author enjoyed finding out the many pieces of the puzzle and how they fit together. The operation ended up being a success. The information in the secret papers found its way all the way to Hitler's desk, where it was accepted as valid. The Germans moved troops away from Sicily towards Sardinia and Greece. Operation Husky worked, and thousands of Allied troops lived to tell their stories. My "laugh out loud" moment in this book had to do in the fascinating details about the captain and crew of "Seraph", the British submarine that placed Major Martin on the coast of Spain. Prior to Operation Mincemeat, "Seraph" Captain Bill Jewell was responsible for transporting American general Mark Clark to Algeria for secret meetings with the French commanders. Clark was Eisenhower's deputy. All night negotiations were going very well, but at one point one of the British Marines guarding Clark suffered a coughing fit. Roger "Jumbo" Courtney was given some chewing gum by General Clark to help him stifle his cough which came dangerously close to giving them away in the dusty cellar while gendarmes patrolled the area. Courtney then whispered to Clark, "Your American gum has so little taste." General Clark whispered back, "Yes, I've already used it."