Newly declassified intelligence files flesh out the intricately interwoven network of World War II spies who formed the Double Cross British espionage system.
Unlike the narrower focus of Stephen Talty’s Agent Garbo (2012), veteran espionage writer and Times (London) journalist Macintyre (Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory, 2010, etc.) fashions a more expansive, ambitious tale of five double agents with dubious credentials but certain loyalties employed by the British to “cook up a diet of harmless truths, half-truths and uncheckable untruths to feed to the enemy.” Double Cross was a pun on the Twenty (XX) Committee formed in January 1941 by British intelligence agencies, led by John Masterman and aimed at coordinating the work of a new strain of double agents. These included the Serbian playboy Dusko Popov (aka Tricycle), who creatively worked the Berlin-Lisbon circuit, though he failed to create an American counterpart to Double Cross because of FBI distrust (and his wild expenditures); Polish patriot Roman Czerniawski, exposed by the Germans in Nazi-occupied France and compelled to infiltrate the British spy system; the bored Peruvian gambler Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir, known as Bronx, employed by MI6 to “coat trail” some influential Germans while larking about Vichy France; the former Spanish chicken farmer and Franco refugee Juan Pujol (aka Garbo), who managed by his confounding literary flourishes to hoodwink the Germans utterly regarding the Normandy landings; and Lily Sergeyev (aka Treasure) who cultivated her charm on Maj. Emile Kliemann of the Abwehr. While the spies were highly effective in deflecting interest in the Torch landings, and later Fortitude, the run-up to Normandy proved disastrous. Moreover, the dangers of getting picked up by the Gestapo and tortured for information was a constant danger, as in the case of Johnny Jebsen (aka Artist).
Invisible ink, double-agent homing pigeons and a Hollywood double for Gen. Monty—nicely woven tales of stealth, brashness and derring-do.