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Operation Mincemeat

How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
Written by: Ben Macintyre
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.8 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

As plans got under way for the Allied invasion of Sicily in June 1943, British counter-intelligence agent Ewen Montagu masterminded a scheme to mislead the Germans into thinking the next landing would occur in Greece. The innovative plot was so successful that the Germans moved some of their forces away from Sicily, and two weeks into the real invasion still expected an attack in Greece.

This extraordinary operation called for a dead body, dressed as a Royal Marine officer and carrying false information about a pending Allied invasion of Greece, to wash up on a Spanish shore near the town of a known Nazi agent.

Agent Montagu tells the story as only an insider could, offering fascinating details of the difficulties involved - especially in creating a persona for a man who never was - and of his profession as a spy and the risks involved in mounting such a complex operation. Failure could have had devastating results. Success, however, brought a decided change in the course of the war.

©2001 Ewen Montagu (P)2010 Random House

What the critics say

"Students of the second world war have been familiar with Mincemeat for many years, but Macintyre offers a mass of new detail, and enchanting pen portraits of the British, Spanish and German participants. His book is a rollicking read for all those who enjoy a spy story so fanciful that Ian Fleming, himself an officer in Montagu's wartime department, would never have dared to invent it." ( The Sunday Times, London)

What listeners say about Operation Mincemeat

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    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting story

I thought this book was really good, good writer, good story, and good reader. I'd recommend it to someone looking for a good listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jack M
  • 2010-06-23

Better than the movie

What a pleasure! For a non-fiction book, this kept me on the edge of my seat. I did not want to leave my car until I got to the end of a chapter. As it is said in the book, this whole operation was based on a fictional story... but it became a real tale of deception during the war. The characters were all interesting and I felt engrossed throughout my listening experience. I even wanted to listen to the 'afterword', which traced what happened to all the 'characters' in the story.

I obtained a copy of the movie 'The Man Who Never Was'. I have not watched more than a few select scenes from the movie BUT this audiobook was by far more in depth and interesting than the movie was or could ever be.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carlos A. Radillo
  • 2010-06-07

Highly Edible

An amazing story, artfully written and told with the distinctive rhythms of British English by a narrator wearing an ascot and nursing a brandy. John Lee's voice and delivery are engrossing although his mastery of Spanish and German accents can only be rivaled by Sean Connery's.

The deception (centered around a slowly decomposing corpse) which contributed to the spectacular German blunder in allowing a relatively unimpeded invasion of Sicily in 1943 is laid out clearly with style and humor.

This book is a great exploration of the world of espionage in 1943, of the personalities involved in this small chapter of the conflict, and of a few of the war's major players.

A great book and a great narration.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • R. Orford
  • 2010-11-14

Adding to the narrative

This book is a rattling story well worth your time. Over the years much has been written, filmed and speculated around this operation in WW2. Where this book stands out from the crowd is the way it builds context and texture around the individuals involved, whilst adding to the historical record. It also underlines and places the operation within the tide of WW2 nicely. It takes information from both the Allied and Axis records basing itself in the firmly facts and also points out where other tellings sway from the truth and why.
Macintyre goes beyond Operation Mincemeat and touches on the other activities of those involved before and after the operation. This provides satisfying bookends around the history for the listener as you become so involved in the story (despite knowing the outcome) and the people involved you really find yourself wanting to know what happens to them after the operation.
John Lee provides the perfect tone to take you to the period.
Highly recommended for people who think they know the story - you don't - and those who did not know of Operation Mincement before now.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 2010-09-23

Fascinating History but story drags along at times

I enjoyed this book -- the story and the historical details were top-notch. The author spent time giving us a good feeling for many of the players, their background, what their motivations might have been, and the part they played in Operation Mincemeat. Unfortunately, the story telling seemed to drag on at times, especially the ending. After we heard the detailed account of the success of the mission, I expected that it would be wrapped up quickly, instead there were several more chapters telling about how the story came to be public, how the books about it were written, the movie was made, etc. This part of the story took too long.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • bill doyle
  • 2012-07-08

Boys Own Adventure come to life

Firstly, I thought this succeeded admirably as an audiobook, both as History and adventure yarn.

I have noticed review complaints about John Lee's narration, an particularly about his 'foreign' accents, but, frankly, unless you are highly-sensitive in these matters - you just couldn't accept Sean Connery as a Russian naval captain, for instance, and returned to the ticket booth to demand a refund - frankly, I wouldn't let it worry you. Personally, I found Lee's narration to be both clear and pleasurable.

As for the story itself - truth is proven, yet again, considerably stranger than fiction; and, indeed, I was left with the impression that the whole improbable tale really had no right whatsoever to succeed! If viewed as a fictional plot-line the story crosses over well into the territory of the flatly-incredible. Without wishing to provide any spoilers, one can't help but wonder just how many Germans in the intelligence services secretly despised Hitler and Nazism, or just wanted to get the inevitable defeat over and done with...

I was pleased that the unfortunate Glyndwr Michael - the man who was the 'mincemeat' - was dealt with respectfully in the narrative, having previously been exposed to high-handed notions that he was an essentially worthless fellow whose only worldly contribution was as a corpse.

My testimony to the ultimate success of this work? Even though I knew perfectly well that the plot had to succeed I was still on the edge of my seat willing it to do so. You can't ask more of a story than that.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Neil
  • 2011-02-08

Fast pace detailed story

Amazing story to save lives and deceive the Nazi's. I usually like books with dialogue but this is primarily narration, but it is an excellent read (listen). I had to stop it and re-listen as it moves quickly, and I wanted to keep informed on all the details. The attention to detail in order to decieve was amazing and I applaud the author for his research. Other books have been written and even a movie on another book which I saw(The Man Who Never Was). The movie was not even close to the real story. I highly recommend this if your interests involve the war(s), and spys. It is a precursor to James Bond, as Flemming plays a role in the deception.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • D. Gross
  • 2010-06-19

Cliffhanger thrills

Even though you know the ending, this is like a cliffhanger. A fantastic story, well written and well read

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cary
  • 2010-06-15

Disappointing reading from a top-notch reader

Having read "Agent Zigzag" and pleasurably listened to many well-narrated books by John Lee, this download was a natural. Surprisingly, as good as the book is, Lee's hurried and somewhat high-pitched narration - in contrast to his many well modulated and diverting readings of the Philip Kerr novels, for example - I found to be distracting and, on occasion, irritating.

Perhaps Lee's considerable skills are better matched to novels rather than expository documentaries such as this...

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bald
  • 2011-07-31

Totally enjoyable!

I really enjoyed this. Wonderful reading by John Lee. Great writing by the author and although the "story" moves along swiftly, there's actually a lot of historical detail. What a story! It's rich and full of characters. You'd swear you're listening to some well plotted spy thriller. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael D. Taylor
  • 2011-07-23

Mincemeat, delicious from start to finish

This is one of the most engaging and memorable books I have listened to. I am a World War II aficionado, and this superbly written and researched book was absorbing from cover to cover. The story itself is captivating, but Macintyre's style and flow made it irresistable. I listen to books only as I exercise, and my exercise sessions expanded in length and frequency as I became engrossed with this incredible episode in World War II.

2 people found this helpful