A THREAD OF DECEIT: Espionage Myths of World War II by Nigel West

A THREAD OF DECEIT: Espionage Myths of World War II

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Did Churchill have advance warning of the bombing of Coventry, and decide against evacuating the city to preserve ULTRA's secrecy? Did Admiral Canaris recruit the Dutch spy ""Mata Haft"" in WW I? Did he meet his British opposite number, Sir Stewart Menzies, during WW II? Was he a traitor These are only the first of the widely repeated and embellished intelligence ""myths"" that West, author of recent, uncannily knowing histories of MI5 and MI6, demolishes, modifies, or occasionally verifies in this brisk, tart rundown--as fascinating for its book-by-book scrutiny of how the stories arose and took hold as for its debunking disclosures. (Churchill did have advance notice of the Coventry raid, but not from ULTRA--from a source that, he had reason to expect, would deflect the raid. Canaris contacts with Mata Haft and Menzies are highly doubtful--but he apparently did pass some vital intelligence to the British.) On other matters, West concludes--as have other close investigators--that FDR didn't have prior word of Pearl Harbor; he is stinging--as others have been too--on William Stevenson's A Man Called Intrepid and its sequel, Intrepid's Last Case. ""Some authors become over-enthusiastic and allow their imaginations excessively free rein."" Sometimes operations go wrong, and those involved look for scapegoats. Either way, official contradictions are rare, allowing legends and speculation to become established as historical fact. For specifics also on the Dieppe and Nuremberg raids, on agents ""WERTHER"" and ""CICERO"": mandatory reading in intelligence circles.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1985
Publisher: Random House