Double Cross

  • by Ben Macintyre
  • Narrated by John Lee
  • 12 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In his celebrated best sellers Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, Ben Macintyre told the dazzling true stories of a remarkable WWII double agent and of how the Allies employed a corpse to fool the Nazis and assure a decisive victory. In Double Cross, Macintyre returns with the untold story of the grand final deception of the war and of the extraordinary spies who achieved it.
On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. D-Day was a stunning military accomplishment, but it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. It was the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, ensuring that Hitler kept an entire army awaiting a fake invasion, saving thousands of lives, and securing an Allied victory at the most critical juncture in the war.
The story of D-Day has been told from the point of view of the soldiers who fought in it, the tacticians who planned it, and the generals who led it. But this epic event in world history has never before been told from the perspectives of the key individuals in the Double Cross System. These include its director (a brilliant, urbane intelligence officer), a colorful assortment of MI5 handlers (as well as their counterparts in Nazi intelligence), and the five spies who formed Double Cross’s nucleus: a dashing Serbian playboy, a Polish fighter-pilot, a bisexual Peruvian party girl, a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming and a volatile Frenchwoman, whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire plan. The D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled, and their success depended on the delicate, dubious relationship between spy and spymaster, both German and British. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is revealed here for the first time.
With the same depth of research, eye for the absurd and masterful storytelling that have made Ben Macintyre an international bestseller, Double Cross is a captivating narrative of the spies who wove a web so intricate it ensnared Hitler’s army and carried thousands of D-Day troops across the Channel in safety.

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What the Critics Say

"Ben Macintyre's spellbinding account features an improbable cast of characters who pulled off a counter-intelligence feat that was breathtaking in its audacity. Their deceptions within deceptions - known as the Double Cross - were critical to the success of the D-Day invasion, and continued to mislead the Germans long after Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. A truly bravura performance, as is Macintyre's fast-paced tale." (Andrew Nagorski, author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power)
"Ben Macintyre and I work in the same period, and I should be reading him because he is such a scrupulous and insightful writer - a master historian. But, with Double Cross and his other excellent works, I always wind up reading him for pleasure. Double Cross may be his best yet, falling somewhere between top-class entertainment and pure addiction." (Alan Furst, author of A Mission to Paris)
"[Macintyre] has excelled himself with a cast of extraordinary characters and in his storytelling abilities....Double Cross is an utterly gripping story." Antony Beevor, The Telegraph)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A secret history of WWII crossed with Monty Python

What did you like about this audiobook?

I love history, especially anything related to WWII. The history of Mi5's Double Cross program was a part of the story that I had never hear. The exploits of this motley crew of misfits reads like a dark comedy, but it all really happened.

Some moments are as delightfully absurd as a Monty Python sketch, but they are tempered by accounts of amazing acts of heroism that changed the course of history.


How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

It left me wanting to find more history books that tell these kinds of stories - the anecdotal, very human side of history.


Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

His personal descriptions of the players and their quirks really make the book. Some of the details he recounts in the first person quotes are priceless. 'he was a complete shit'


What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

Nothing, it was spot on with perfect timing to deliver the best lines with bone-dry english irony.


Do you have any additional comments?

If you have an interest in WWII history, spy novels or biographies, you are going to love this one.

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- None of your damn business

Worthwhile overall

Definitely an intriguing look at a lesser known part of WW2 history. One comes away with the impression that the British were vastly better at the spy game during WW2 than the Nazis, which the facts seem to support. You begin to understand why while reading this book. It showcases some colourful characters whose proclivities made them somewhat undesirable in everyday life but well-suited for the duplicitous life of a double agent. Occasionally I found the story dragged, but only until it shifted to a different character or situation. If you like spy stories or stories from WW2, this is a must.
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- Katherine

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-31-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio