A Man Called Intrepid

  • by William Stevenson
  • Narrated by David McAlister
  • 21 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The classic real-life story of the superspy whose vast intelligence network helped defeat the Nazis in World War II.
A Man Called Intrepid is the account of the world’s first integrated intelligence operation and of its master, William Stephenson. Codenamed INTREPID by Winston Churchill, Stephenson was charged with establishing and running a vast, worldwide intelligence network to challenge the terrifying force of Nazi Germany. Nothing less than the fate of Britain and the free world hung in the balance as INTREPID covertly set about stalling the Nazis by any means necessary.
First published in 1976, A Man Called Intrepid was an immediate bestseller. With over thirty black-and-white photographs and countless World War II secrets, this book revealed startling information that had remained buried for decades. Detailing the infamous Camp X training center in Ontario, Canada; the miraculous breaking of the Ultra Code used by the Enigma Machine; and dozens of other stories of clandestine missions, A Man Called Intrepid is an undisputed modern classic.

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You have to wonder ...

William Stevenson, or little Bill as he is referred to in this book (to compare him with big Bill, William Donovan) ran the British spy network in the US during World War II. This book is the unmasking of much that happened during that time and there are some fascinating stories included within its covers.

Mr Stevenson is one of those relatively unknown heroes who made the winning of the war by those other heroes, the US, British, Canadian, Austrialian, French, Russian and other soldiers and sailors doing the fighting, those living through the daily bombing in the UK, those whose loved ones were risking life and limb on battlefields and those in occupied territory who had to live under the Nazi tyranny, possible. I have no doubt that we are all indebted to him and all of spies those like him who help win the war.

The problem is that one has to wonder if some of the information included in the book is accurate. This book was published in 1976 so it is not new, but some of the information included is at variance with histories of this period that are being written now. It is reasonable to think that the events described in this book, if accurate, would be cited in the new books and used to revise what is currently being written. For example ...

The most inflammatory event described is the Nazi bombing of Coventry. My Stevenson says that Winston Churchill knew the destination of the bombing raid and did nothing to warn those living in Coventry in order to protect the Ultra secret. I remember when, back in 1976, I first heard of this and I certainly believed it. It is one of those stories that seems to perfectly capture the terrible choices that people in power have to make. The only problem is that today historians are still saying that there is no evidence that this is true and, in fact, many of those involved in war planning have said very openly that it is not true and point to both historic actions and events to prove that the story is not true. Very few historians credit the story.

Another example concerns the Dieppe raid which Mr Stevenson says was not planned and executed for the purpose stated but was rather for another purpose all together and served as a distraction for that true purpose. Perhaps that is true, but no other historian writing about this event today that I have read credits that story either.

Included are descriptions of other events which have the feel of truth and are backed up by current histories of the period - the escape of the physicist Niels Bohr, the attack on the plant that supplied Germany with heavy water for their atomic experiments and the British involvement with undermining and exposing political opponents of Roosevelt's actions prior to the US entry into the war. So the book seems to me to be a mixed bag. One truly annoying omission in the book comes from the statement that the Ultra secret was guarded so closely that only 20 Allied military officers knew it. I hoped, in vain, that those people would have been identified. And interestingly enough while Mr Stevenson describes the breaking of the Japanese diplomatic code by William Friedman, he makes no mention of the breaking of the Japanese Naval codes by Commander Rochefort.

The narration was a disappointment for me. Mr McAlister's reading is hesitant and thus hard to follow at some points in the book. His pronunciation of some people's names seemed odd and at variance with common usage today. It is a history and is perhaps a bit dry as read and I can only wonder what it might have been like had it been read by someone like Grover Gardner.
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- Mike From Mesa "MikeFromMesa"

Great book! A blast from the past

I recommended this book to Audible. I loved it when it came out in the 1970s. I've read many books on this topic since then. But this is still the best.
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- Gary Adams

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-26-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios