Hitler’s Undercover War, by William Breuer

March 3, 2011 at 14:52 (Book Reviews, Crime and Law Enforcement, Historical, Mediocre Books, Second World War, Twentieth Century, War) (, , , )

6/10

This book contains some excellently-told stories, with just the right amount of suspense and window-dressing to keep dusty historical anecdotes interesting. With most of the material apparently from FBI transcripts and interviews, some creative license seems to have been taken. It is occasionally difficult to keep up with the dozens of names (especially considering so many pseudonyms!), but this is offset considerably by a very useful index, both of spies’ names and the sentences they received; and also by the author’s useful focus on three or four key figures and their stories throughout the book (some of whom were of chief significance, some who were unimportant but most interesting).

Some lengthier commentary on Operations Fortitude, Bodyguard and Quicksilver would have been welcome – even if they had only been comments on why they were led by British intelligence rather than American. Breuer does make a little too much effort to tell the story of the war alongside the stories of his spies (to do otherwise would open up accusations of an isolated and confused narrative) but he can spend a little too long dealing with events, people or politics largely irrelevant to his chosen topic. Usually, though, he manages to dip into the European theatre for just long enough to set contexts and introduce key characters upon whom he intends to focus. A difficult job well played, and a charmingly-written account.

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