THE GAME OF THE FOXES: The Untold Story of Hitler's Espionage Network in America and Britain by Ladislas Farago

THE GAME OF THE FOXES: The Untold Story of Hitler's Espionage Network in America and Britain

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The idea of writing this book about the Abwehr, the German secret service under Admiral Wilhelm Franz Canaris, first occurred to me in 1967 when, in a dark loft of the National Archives in Washington, D.C., I stumbled over a metal footlocker. . . ."" Farago samples the dusty boxes of microfilm, untouched, he says, since their 1945 capture: ""an extraordinary find. . . . Now, practically the entire files of one of the world's greatest secret services became available to shed light on every aspect of its operation."" Flushed with this uncanny triumph, Farago neglects to tell us what he was doing up in that loft, why this remarkable cache had never been unpacked by ""the dedicated custodians of the captured German records,"" and why they have permitted their treasure to be presented to the public in such an unscholarly manner. Having specified his general source, Farago offers at best occasional documentary scraps on particular points. The book covers Abwehr operations in England and the U.S., with considerable admiration for Admiral Canaris, while the activities of General Gehlen are omitted. The most striking claim in the book is that John L. Lewis was mixed up with an oil tycoon, allegedly a German agent, and helped get Mexican oil for Germany as well as urging the German view of the European situation on FDR in 1939; Lewis' anti-Roosevelt efforts in 1940 are also viewed as part of a ""conspiracy."" It is impossible to weigh sources, given the way in which the tales are told; one can only say that the impression of scurrility spoils the fun of what is otherwise no more or less than a jolly collection of spy anecdotes. Getting bombsight plans and devising Chiclet bombs, tapping the Roosevelt-Churchill ""hot line,"" seemingly failing to achieve significant sabotage, the spies were a mixed lot and the double agents most interesting, of course. American informers included, according to Farago, Governor Phil LaFollette. Farago dwells on the ""Double-Cross"" operation in which the British recruited top German agents to feed bogus intelligence to the Nazis; here and in other places he says he has new information, but doesn't tell us what it is. Farago, an intelligence expert during the war and at present an 80-year-old Oxford don, writes like neither, but rather like a trashy novelist. The publicity buildup for the book has been even greater than for his Tora, Tora and Patton (which many critics found less than scrupulous in its scholarship).

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1971
Publisher: McKay