I first came across the writing of Ben Macintyre when I picked up his book Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies in a used bookstore. I’ve always enjoyed reading war and espionage nonfiction, and I particularly enjoyed Ben’s writing. His research and writing focuses on the covert actions of the British government during World War 2.
Operation Mincemeat is one of those small chapters in World War II that I had heard about in passing. Despite scattered references, I was never really sure what happened. I was excited to dive into this book and finally figure out why this particular part of the War is so celebrated.
The book is factual and accurate, based on extensive research. Among the primary sources are British intelligence reports, personal journals, and interviews. Sprinkled throughout are direct quotes that give insight into the mind of the subjects being discussed. You do get some background information that helps you to better understand the characters, but never so much that it’s boring. I didn’t find any part of the book to be particularly dry, except for one of the post-script chapters which describes precisely how the Mincemeat story was made public.
In reading the book, I came across many of the same characters that I met in Double Cross. That added some nice background that made my reading even more enjoyable. I also found that reading Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler beforehand gave me a deeper knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes on the side of German intelligence. It was fun meeting these characters and seeing them from a different angle.
Ben’s writing is at its best, and I walk away with a thorough knowledge of Mincemeat and a better insight into just how complex military operations can be. Well written and a great, fast read.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★