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Although an avid book reader, I don't tend to read non-fiction books. When my husband gave me 'Operation Mincemeat' by Ben McIntyre to read, I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. I knew the basis of the story as my husband loves anything to do with World War II, but he was very keen for me to read it as he had enjoyed it.
Operation Mincemeat is based on what is probably one of the greatest deceptions of the war. The front cover says it is 'The true spy story that changed the course of World War II'. The story itself sounds like the basis of a Hollywood film plot, and it is hard to believe that it did actually happen. I hope I am not giving too much away to those of you that don't know the story, but it is impossible to review without giving some of the background.
In 1943, Spanish fisherman found the body of a British soldier floating in the sea off the coast of Spain. Strapped to the body of 'Major William Martin' was a brief case containing top secret documents. The body was taken ashore, and after a few days, the secret documents found their way to Berlin and to Hitler's inner circle. Little did they know the time and effort that went in to leaving the body where it would fall into the wrong hands complete with believable fake documents to fool the Germans.
The book is a detailed look at every element of the deception. It started with a random idea and slowly developed into the fantastic scheme it became. The book details everything from finding a suitable corpse to use that a post mortem would show had drowned, creating a personality for 'Major Martin', and forging the documents which would deceive the Germans into thinking that the Allies planned to attack Greece and Sardinia rather than their true target of Sicily.
The book also gives a detailed background of all those involved on both sides especially Ewen Monatgu who was one of the key players in forming the idea and bringing 'Major Martin' to life. The book includes excerpts from letters that were sent to his wife who was in America at the time safely away from any air raids.
The last chapter of the book is about what they key players from both sides of the deception went on to do after the war, and how the story of Operation Mincemeat started leaking out. Montagu was keen to sell his story to the world, whilst another creator of the deception, Charles Cholmondeley, refused to be identified or accept any public credit.
I was expecting the book to be quite hard going, and in some places it was a little, but I did really enjoy it. I loved the way McIntyre gave so much detail, really building up a picture of the people involved and the lengths they went to to ensure the 'evidence' was plausible. The book is divided up in to chapters making it easy to understand each stage. I also liked the fact that the books had pictures of the main people involved, and also of all the documents and personal effects that were carried by 'Major Martin'.
Overall an enjoyable read for those interested in learning more about World War II and the amazing story that sounds too farfetched to be true! 5 stars from me.
Paperback is available from Amazon for £5.19 or £10.87 for the hardback including delivery.
Thanks for reading