Sunday, 29 May 2011

Operation Mincemeat by Ben Mcintyre

Upon finishing Agent Zigzag by the same author a month ago, I started right away on Operation Mincemeat. I usually take less than one week to finish a paperback of 600 pages. However, April and May have been particularly busy months, and the weekends were no different. There was always one obligation after another. I was surprised to note that I took one month to finish Agent Zigzag and another month to finish Operation Mincemeat. At the rate I'm reading, it's going to take me more than one lifetime to finish all the books I have!

Operation Mincemeat was the codename of a very bizarre deception carried out by the British Intelligence to fool the Nazis.  One of the person involved in the deception was Ian Fleming who was in Room 35 of the Admiralty, the nerve center of British naval intelligence. He later went on to write the James Bond spy novels.

And his colleague, Charles Fraser-Smith, was the inventor who provided Ian Fleming with equipments for his more outlandish plans. Needless to say, Charles Fraser-Smith was responsible for the character 'Q' in the James Bond novels while 'M' was based on Admiral John Godfrey.

The deception involved getting a corpse with no family and dressing it up as an officer and floating it off to the Spanish shores with planted intelligence documents to fool the Germans about the Allieds' invasion plans.

I particularly enjoyed the first half of the book. Stephen King couldn't have been more macabre. 
Bentley Purchase came up with a solution. "I've got it," said the coroner. "We'll get an electric fire and thaw out the feet only. As soon as the boots are on we'll pop him back in the refrigerator again and refreeze him."
 The mouth of the corpse has fallen open. The skin around the nose has sunk, and the upper part of the face appears discoloured. The fingers of the left hand are bent, as if clawing in pain.
......a person was formally pronounced dead without ever having been alive.
I don't normally quote paragraphs from the books I read, but those passages just stuck in my mind.

Read together with Agent Zigzag and The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva, one has a better understanding and appreciation of how a war could be won even before it actually began. History lesson has never been so interesting, dead bodies do tell tales. 

And now I'm going to start on a fiction that has nothing to do with war....time to take a break from history.  Should I read The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson or Snow by Orhan Pamuk, or......

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