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Double Cross

The True Story of the D-Day Spies
Written by: Ben Macintyre
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In his celebrated best sellers Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, Ben Macintyre told the dazzling true stories of a remarkable WWII double agent and of how the Allies employed a corpse to fool the Nazis and assure a decisive victory. In Double Cross, Macintyre returns with the untold story of the grand final deception of the war and of the extraordinary spies who achieved it.

On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. D-Day was a stunning military accomplishment, but it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. It was the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, ensuring that Hitler kept an entire army awaiting a fake invasion, saving thousands of lives, and securing an Allied victory at the most critical juncture in the war.

The story of D-Day has been told from the point of view of the soldiers who fought in it, the tacticians who planned it, and the generals who led it. But this epic event in world history has never before been told from the perspectives of the key individuals in the Double Cross System. These include its director (a brilliant, urbane intelligence officer), a colorful assortment of MI5 handlers (as well as their counterparts in Nazi intelligence), and the five spies who formed Double Cross’s nucleus: a dashing Serbian playboy, a Polish fighter-pilot, a bisexual Peruvian party girl, a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming and a volatile Frenchwoman, whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire plan. The D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled, and their success depended on the delicate, dubious relationship between spy and spymaster, both German and British. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is revealed here for the first time.

With the same depth of research, eye for the absurd and masterful storytelling that have made Ben Macintyre an international bestseller, Double Cross is a captivating narrative of the spies who wove a web so intricate it ensnared Hitler’s army and carried thousands of D-Day troops across the Channel in safety.

©2012 Random House Audio (P)2012 Agentstvo Publishing

What the critics say

"Ben Macintyre's spellbinding account features an improbable cast of characters who pulled off a counter-intelligence feat that was breathtaking in its audacity. Their deceptions within deceptions - known as the Double Cross - were critical to the success of the D-Day invasion, and continued to mislead the Germans long after Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. A truly bravura performance, as is Macintyre's fast-paced tale." (Andrew Nagorski, author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power)
"Ben Macintyre and I work in the same period, and I should be reading him because he is such a scrupulous and insightful writer - a master historian. But, with Double Cross and his other excellent works, I always wind up reading him for pleasure. Double Cross may be his best yet, falling somewhere between top-class entertainment and pure addiction." (Alan Furst, author of A Mission to Paris)
"[Macintyre] has excelled himself with a cast of extraordinary characters and in his storytelling abilities.... Double Cross is an utterly gripping story." Antony Beevor, The Telegraph)

What listeners say about Double Cross

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An amazing story

This book tells an amazing true, almost unbelievable, story about the disinformation service that two men set up and got away with it for the duration of World War 2. This is one of those times where the truth is stranger than fiction. At times the antics are laughable but they are also testimant to the depth these two gentlemen had the Germans convinced. John Lee is an engaging reader. He makes what could have been a dry topic, a difficult listen to put on pause.

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  • None of your damn business
  • 2012-08-15

A secret history of WWII crossed with Monty Python

What did you like about this audiobook?

I love history, especially anything related to WWII. The history of Mi5's Double Cross program was a part of the story that I had never hear. The exploits of this motley crew of misfits reads like a dark comedy, but it all really happened.

Some moments are as delightfully absurd as a Monty Python sketch, but they are tempered by accounts of amazing acts of heroism that changed the course of history.

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

It left me wanting to find more history books that tell these kinds of stories - the anecdotal, very human side of history.

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

His personal descriptions of the players and their quirks really make the book. Some of the details he recounts in the first person quotes are priceless. 'he was a complete shit'

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

Nothing, it was spot on with perfect timing to deliver the best lines with bone-dry english irony.

Do you have any additional comments?

If you have an interest in WWII history, spy novels or biographies, you are going to love this one.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Blake
  • 2012-10-13

Worthy Read on the Double Cross System

This is Ben Macintyre’s third book covering much the same general topic matter of Britain's spymasters during World War II. His previous books dive deep into the real-life characters of Agent ZigZag and all the colorful members of Britain's MI5 war effort. Many of those same characters return here in Double Cross, but whereas those books are very up close and personal, Double Cross is a bit distant. Perhaps due to the relative lack of historical material to draw from, and certainly from including too many thinly illustrated double and triple agents into the narrative, Double Cross doesn't get the reader as close to the people whose stories are being told as in Macintyre’s other efforts. John lee does a masterful job in reading the words and keeping the story lively. All in all, an enjoyable read, but a bit lackluster compares to Macintyre’s other efforts on the same subjects.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Jean
  • 2012-11-18

British Mi5 and D-Day

Ben MacIntyre took advantage of the recently released secret documents about WW11's spy program. The book is well researched and documented and reads like a novel. The story is about the Nazi spies that Britain turned into double agents to pass misinformation about the possible landing sites for D-Day. They were a Serbian playboy, Polish fighter pilot, bisexual Peruvian party girl, a Frenchwomen, and a Spaniard. The job these few people did saved many allied lives on D-Day. MacIntyre manged to bring to life the role these people had to balance between their Nazi handlers and those from Mi5. The loneliness and fear that each much have had to deal with must have taken a huge toll on them. The British actor John Lee did a good job with the narration. If you enjoy history and WW11 in particular you will find this book fascinating.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Florence
  • 2014-04-28

John Lee~ Please BREATHE

I love Ben Mcintyre's work. There were one or two historical glitches in the previous book I read (nothing major, something only a Brit steeped in WW2 history might spot); but this book seemed flawless.
A fascinating story. Worth every dammed moment....and some of the moments were dammed.
I have a mixed "relationship" with the work of the narrator, John Lee. I have found some of his clipped delivery a little irksome, and then I thought that I had become used to his "clippy" ways (for some inexplicable reason, he is the narrator in many of my favoured books).
However, in this reading he doesn't "clip" he gallops!
I've worked with News readers (I work in radio) who trip from one subject to the next without a pause, leaving the audience wondering if they were listening to the same story (The governor is caught up a tree with a cat with his budget??? Really??) ...
It takes the average mind about a second to absorb, settle; and realise that the subject matter has changed.
Important, therefore, to pause...otherwise the mind is momentarily confused. Either John Lee wasn't pausing, or one of the editors cut the recording too tightly, not allowing the brain to grasp the point. Over and over again, I found myself momentarily confused, as the scene had changed, but Lee's intonation hadn't given me a clue; which meant that I frequently had to rewind slightly; which was irritating! It took away from an astounding story, well laid out.
These men and women were fascinating! Not cut-and-paste heroes, they were much flawed, but they were brave, and their story has been written well by Mcintyre.

6 people found this helpful

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  • hazel
  • 2012-09-25

Double agents revealed

Mr. Macintyre's account of the double agents in WW11 is most interesting and well researched. Unlike "Agent Zigzag" which concentrates pretty much on one man's life and contributions to the war effort, this book is not what I would call "easy listening" by any means however. One must pay attention or soon get lost in an attempt to keep track of the many characters involved, their oddball personalities and the events they participated in. Personally I had to start the book over from the beginning several times before getting a good grasp on each individual's story but then sometimes when listening to an audio book I can get easily distracted, and other listeners may not experience the same problem.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Katherine
  • 2012-08-14

Worthwhile overall

Definitely an intriguing look at a lesser known part of WW2 history. One comes away with the impression that the British were vastly better at the spy game during WW2 than the Nazis, which the facts seem to support. You begin to understand why while reading this book. It showcases some colourful characters whose proclivities made them somewhat undesirable in everyday life but well-suited for the duplicitous life of a double agent. Occasionally I found the story dragged, but only until it shifted to a different character or situation. If you like spy stories or stories from WW2, this is a must.

10 people found this helpful

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  • KathPoole
  • 2012-09-24

Very interesting information on the war against Hi

What did you love best about Double Cross?

New information on the spies against the third reich (I won't capitalize the name of such an evil empire). It shows that the nazi's didn't have much imagination, except in how to torture and kill unarmed people.

What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I read what a previous reviewer said about all his accents. I like John Lee as a reader and didn't mind. It could have been tiresome but I just decided to get over it, so I could enjoy the story.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I also ran out to my local book store to look at the pictures of the characters.

Any additional comments?

If you are interested in WWII history, this is a must read. I enjoy reading while knitting and feel so productive.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Count B
  • 2019-09-26

BUY AGENT ZIG ZAG FIRST - Then This

Zig Zag is a SUPERB book & is just leaves you in awe. buying Zig Zag first will help round your understanding of this book, as this book has many spies in it & is rather interwoven. A great book don't get e wrong but Zig Zag first then this will expand your listing pleasure.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bruce Lynn
  • 2019-02-24

And excellent story with an excellent narrator

Transfer I’ve long believed one does not truly know history unless they are aware of the behind the scene machinations of governments and their intelligence services. In this book Ben Macintyre tells the story of the five spies who formed Double Cross's nucleus. They were, to say the least, a colorful group. This is the third book I have read by Ben Macintyre and like the other two I have read is excellent. One thing I especially appreciate is that Macintyre gives short biographies of these spies following WWII. If you like history and especially the history of WWII and espionage I believe that you will agree with me that this is an excellent book. I am glad that I did not listen to the one and two star reviews of this book which confirm my experience that so often these reviews are more a reflection of the reviewer than the item reviewed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2015-10-10

Interesting Story

This was an interesting story. A bit difficult to keep up with all the different characters but worth the read. if you have no knowledge of the background, of these activities it's very interesting.

1 person found this helpful