The baroque subterfuge and contorted underground politics behind the Allied invasion of North Africa are so ably described here as to leave the reader strangled. There were the French troops in Algeria who wanted General Henri Giraud to lead them in the event of invasion. On the surface, the Allies warmly agreed to this. Meanwhile, in London, Charles de Gaulle, nominal Resistance leader, chafed. And meanwhile, in Vichy France, Admiral Jean Francois Darlan, who held firmly in his hand all Vichy troops from North Africa to France, let it be known to the Allies that if their invasion were strong enough he would assume supreme command in North Africa. Darlan was anti-British; he would welcome Americans. The U.S., meanwhile, played all three Frenchmen off against each other while actually mounting the invasion. The shocked French in Africa weren't told of the invasion until it was a few bare days away. Collaborator Darlan arrived in Algiers scant hours ahead of the landings. From this point on, through the admiral's murder, the exposition is absolutely dazzling and often grimly hilarious. Studying Darlan, Parisians commented: ""A fine thing when you can't even trust your own traitors!