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Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II | [Ben Macintyre]

Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II

From the best-selling author of Agent Zigzag, the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. One April morning in 1943, a sardine fisherman spotted the corpse of a British solder floating in the sea off the coast of Spain and set in train a course of events that would change the course of the Second World War.
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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Agent Zigzag, the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. One April morning in 1943, a sardine fisherman spotted the corpse of a British solder floating in the sea off the coast of Spain and set in train a course of events that would change the course of the Second World War.

Operation Mincemeat was the most successful wartime deception ever attempted and certainly the strangest. It hoodwinked the Nazi espionage chiefs, sent German troops hurtling in the wrong direction, and saved thousands of lives by deploying a secret agent who was different in one crucial respect, from any spy before or since: he was dead.

His mission: to convince the Germans that instead of attacking Sicily, the Allied armies planned to invade Greece. The brainchild of an eccentric RAF officer and a brilliant Jewish barrister, the great hoax involved an extraordinary cast of characters including a famous forensic pathologist, a gold-prospector, an investor, a beautiful secret service secretary, a submarine captain, three novelists, a transvestite English spymaster, an irascible admiral who loved fly-fishing, and a dead Welsh tramp.

Using fraud, imagination and seduction, Churchill's team of spies spun a web of deceit so elaborate and so convincing that they began to believe it themselves. The deception started in a windowless basement beneath Whitehall. It travelled from London to Spain to Germany. And it ended up on Hitler's desk. Ben Macintyre, bestselling author of AGENT ZIGZAG, weaves together private documents, photographs, memories, letters and diaries as well as newly released material from the intelligence files of MI5 and Naval Intelligence, to tell for the first time the full story of Operation Mincemeat.

©2010 Ben Macintyre (P)2010 Random House

What the Critics Say

'A rollicking read for all those who enjoy a spy story so fanciful that Ian Fleming - himself an officer in Montagu's wartime department - would never have dared to invent it' Max Hastings'. (Sunday Times)

'Ben Macintyre, also the author of the acclaimed AGENT ZIGZAG, is fast becoming a one-man industry in these updated tales of cunning, bravery and skulduggery. With his mix of meticulous research and a good hack's eye for narrative, it is hard to think of a better guide to keep beckoning us back to that fascinating world'. (Observer)

'Even more spellbinding than his previous story of wartime espionage, AGENT ZIGZAG, with a cast-list every bit as dotty and colourful ... Macintyre is a master of the thumbnail character sketch.' (Mail on Sunday)

'Astonishing ... sheds riveting new light on this breathtaking plan.' (Daily Mail)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (60 )
5 star
 (26)
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4.1 (36 )
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4.1 (36 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Sandy BUCKETTY, Australia 11-19-11
    Sandy BUCKETTY, Australia 11-19-11 Member Since 2008

    Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    391
    ratings
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    1246
    198
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    26
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More than Mincemeat"

    John Lee always seems to read well. While this account is packed with interesting information, it was at times rambling, with some details repeated again and again. Perhaps it was Ben Macintyre's style of writing I found annoying. The task was no doubt difficult. There are still stories within stories, one mystery within another and many of these could be stand alone accounts. It may be this account reads better, as hard copy than having it read in audio format.
    If you are interested in WW11, have read and loved 'Catch 22', then this will flesh out a little more of what was going on in the Mediterranean.
    It is well worth a listen

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Auckland, New Zealand 03-27-11
    Steven Auckland, New Zealand 03-27-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
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    16
    16
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    Overall
    "History, journalism and war story all in one"

    MacIntyre has been criticised for rehashing a story previously told by others (both here and in Agent ZigZag) and while this is technically true I doubt anyone has written these most intriguing stories with as much style as MacIntyre. His writing flits from reportage to crime novel to historical document to romance in the space of a single page. The narrator, John Lee is superb, maintaining a good pace which enhances the tension of the story. Definitely worth buying, but you'll struggle to turn it off - make sure you have lots of vacation time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garry Cannington, Australia 04-21-13
    Garry Cannington, Australia 04-21-13 Member Since 2011

    I work in IT, I love reading, I love Writing and for those daily travels too and fro I love to listen to Audible books too

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ratings
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    68
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    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent story"
    What made the experience of listening to Operation Mincemeat the most enjoyable?

    I found this story enjoyable as it would make such a great spy movie.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Operation Mincemeat?

    memorable, hmm, interesting question for this story for me I suppose to consider that a death can make a difference and save thousands of lives is well proven.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    enjoyable is all I can have


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Neither laugh or cry, but made a tad feeling that war could be fun. I do not mean this disrespectfully for the operation saved lives however, this was the nature of the spying game. I do not consider for one moment the British Agents did as the effort involved and risk would have been to the detriment of lives.


    Any additional comments?

    A good companion piece to Agent Zig Zag

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Geoffrey Hobart, Australia 12-19-12
    Geoffrey Hobart, Australia 12-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    5
    3
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    "Too much mince and not enough meat"
    What did you like best about Operation Mincemeat? What did you like least?

    The book gave an interesting insight into the thinking and motivation of the British Secret Service during war time.The author continually deviated from the story line by providing the most intricate decsriptions of the characters and of the locations where the action was happening.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Difficult to pick one out.


    How could the performance have been better?

    By introducing more first person narrative.


    Could you see Operation Mincemeat being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I think that Operation Mincemeat would probably make a good movie. It has an unusual plot with the potential for some quite animated drama. A certain amount of producer's licence would be required and the title would have to be ditched.


    Any additional comments?

    I liked this yarn, it had all the elements of a good spy story complete with double and even triple agents all being suckered by the crafty MI5. The only downside was the padding. This book could have been half as long if only half the characteres were given the full life story treatment and the others blended in as befitted the minor part they played.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Sydney, Australia 05-10-12
    Michael Sydney, Australia 05-10-12 Member Since 2007

    Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The devil is in the detail"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    A little less detail. Some of the facts where just clouding the story and padding.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The chapters dealt with the subject and didn't fly off in tangents or repeat previous material over and over again.


    Which character – as performed by John Lee – was your favorite?

    They were all good.


    Do you think Operation Mincemeat needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Nope


    Any additional comments?

    I think this book should be made into a mini-series with all the facts. As they say, the facts are stranger than fiction. The 1956 movie was good, but Hollywood being the town it is, had to change the story slightly. Needs to be told proper now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results
Sort by:
  • james
    beverly hills, Australia
    1/30/11
    Overall
    "The Full Story of "The Man Who Never Was.""

    We all know the story of 'The Man Who Never Was' - an imaginative ploy to trick the Germans late in WWII.

    'Operation Mincemeat' is to 'The Man Who Never Was' in the same wau that the musical 'Wicked' is to 'The Wizard Of Oz'. I thought I knew the story of the deception, but as it turned out, I didn't know jack.

    'The Man Who Never Was' was written in post-War Britain with too many secrets needing to remain secret. It edits much of the truth and recasts far too many characters. The subsequent film does what films do and rewrites the story for a Hollywood mindset.

    'Operation Mincemeat' is a comprehensive telling of the story. That means it may be a little longer than it otherwise needs to be, but at the end, every imaginable question you have will have been addressed, crossreferenced and reiterated.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sara
    Llanwrtyd wells, United Kingdom
    1/18/11
    Overall
    "Espionage at its best."

    This book reads like a far-fetched, 'Boys Own' war-novel and keeps you interested from start to finish. It is well researched, well written and adopts a great pace. Each extraordinary character is introduced with their background, reputation and contribution clearly described and incorporated into the fascinating story of Operation Mincemeat. The historical importance of this operation is undeniable and this book brings the story to the reader/listener with an honest documenting of the combination of skill, legerdemain, nerve and blind luck that led to its success. If you like mystery novels, historical documentaries or action & adventure books, then this is a combination of all three and you should really enjoy it. Well done to the author for a widely researched, well written and exciting book. It is a high-quality production with excellent narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Nick
    Somerset
    10/24/10
    Overall
    "Excellent listen"

    After being recommended to me this has been one of the most enjoyable audiobooks i have purchased. The story is great and the narrator really brings the characters to life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Joanna
    Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom
    1/4/11
    Overall
    "Operation Mincemeat"

    I bought this book as it looked interesting, and while it would be wrong to say that it wasn't, I have to own that I found it irritating.

    I found it unsatisfactory, possibly because of the way that it was read - in the style of a swashbuckling spy novel of the 1940s - though that is I suppose what it is, as well as being a true story. There is no humour in the book at all and it's quite involved - not necessarily because it helps the plot along, but almost to prove how thorough was the author's research. I never escaped from real life into it and didn't engage with the characters at all. I listened to the end in the hope that it would get better. It didn't!

    I don't totally regret getting it as I learned a lot - but would hesitate before choosing another book by this author.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Alistair
    MARLBOROUGH, United Kingdom
    12/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating detail"

    This is a well read/voiced book which is packed with an amazing amount of detail and background information. At times the level of detail feels a little over the top, but on reflection it really adds to the story. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in WW2 history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William Stewart
    Neston, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "A supurb story, More so because it is true."

    I have always been interested in history, especially the second world war and with new and interesting facts coming to light every year it is great to hear of things we might never have imagined...This is one such story it is a compelling, interesting and fact based review of an amazing plot to foil Hitler and it worked.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Brian
    Whitehaven, United Kingdom
    3/11/12
    Overall
    "Just Brilliant"

    From start to finish I enjoyed every minute. the story, the people in it, and the best of it is, it's all true a great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J. E. S. Bradshaw
    Warwickshire, England
    9/16/11
    Overall
    "A ripping yarn"

    Famous as one of the great deception exercises of the Second World War, this is a gripping and intriguing tale, well worth a listen. It's hard work at time, though, because of the production - narrator John Lee ploughs relentlessly on with no sense of narrative sequence and no breaks even for breath, and it's all just a little hurried. (I'd give it four stars but for this minor irritation.) Keep your finger on the 'pause' button and you'll be ok, though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gareth
    Dyffryn Ardudwy, GWYNEDD, United Kingdom
    2/7/11
    Overall
    "Operation Mincemeat"

    A very interesting book for those who are into this kind of thing!
    Massively detailed, you have to concentrate to avoid missing vital information.
    The narrator has an easy to listen to voice.
    All in all very good & highly recomended for WW2 buffs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    rochester, United Kingdom
    1/6/11
    Overall
    "An update of a classic story"

    This is a truely fascinating updated account of 'The man who never was'. It is a much richer and stranger story with all the Hollywood glitz removed. The narritive gives detailed information on the backgrounds of the characters involved on both sides. Althought this gives the initial appearence of wandering from the story, ultimately it enriches the characters and explains why indivduals reacted as they did. This is important as there were some pretty strange decisions made on both sides. That the deception worked is well recorded historical
    fact.How and why this worked is somewhat more open to interpretation. The previous reviewer did not like the boys own style but then I think this is very much a boys story. There is humour in the story but it is very dry and probably once again boy humour. The narrator is very good with a classic Herr Flick accent when reading the German accounts.Recommended but you'll have to pay attention.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 12 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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