Before he remade himself as the master spy known as Garbo, Juan Pujol was nothing more than a Barcelona poultry farmer. But as Garbo, he turned in a masterpiece of deception that changed the course of World War II. Posing as the Nazis’ only reliable spy inside England, he created an imaginary million-man army, invented armadas out of thin air, and brought a vast network of fictional subagents to life. The scheme culminated on June 6, 1944, when Garbo convinced the Germans that the Allied forces approaching Normandy were just a feint - the real invasion would come at Calais. Because of his brilliant trickery, the Allies were able to land with much less opposition and eventually push on to Berlin.
As incredible as it sounds, everything in Agent Garbo is true, based on years of archival research and interviews with Pujol’s family. This pulse-pounding thriller set in the shadow world of espionage and deception reveals the shocking reality of spycraft that occurs just below the surface of history.
©2012 Stephen Talty (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
"The book presses ever forward down a path of historical marvels and astonishing facts. The effect is like a master class that’s accessible to anyone, and Agent Garbo often reads as though it were written in a single, perfect draft." (The Atlantic)
"Stephan Talty’s unsurpassed research brings forth one of the war’s greatest agents in a must-read book for those who think they know all the great World War II stories." (Gregory Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500)
The main, real life character (a failed chicken farmer who becomes the most important spy in WWII) is too fantastic not to be true and fascinating to follow (kind of like the one-eyed neurologist with Asperger's in the Big Short).
That said, the writing was too melodramatic. Lots of details/flourishes about scenes were added and seemed somehow artificial or at least unnecessary. The story line is fantastic, these descriptive trimmings weren't necessary
The main character and the idea that a fairly lone wolf guy could save literally thousands of lives from a windowless office in London during WWII
Despite my concerns, it's a good read and well worth reading.
I was enthralled with the way that Talty weaves the story of secret agent Joan Pujol with the stories of his family, other agents, and the greater historical picture. Talty did a great job of meticulously collecting details and quotes that make you feel like you understand the man behind the Garbo legend.
I will definitely be checking out more books by Stephan Talty in the future! It's his insights into the people and their motivations that really draws you into the amazing story.
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