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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.
I had no idea what this book was about, but the oxymoronic title was attention getting. Turns out, it was in the basement of my library, where they keep books that don't often get circulated, but that they didn't want to get rid of. The version I read was the first one that came out, printed in the mid -'50's. I have discovered that there is a more updated version printed since then, with information that couldn't be printed even 10 years after the war. Reading this book by an authorized person who was "in the know" was exciting. The author had a sense of humor that lightened it up. Sometimes the long-winded sentences and military jargon caused me to start day-dreaming and I often had to reread sentences, and even then did not know if I was entirely understanding what was being said. But I could always get the gist of it. I enjoyed looking at the photographs, but was NOT expecting to see the actual picture of the decomposing corpse! It wasn't too bad, but a little gruesome. The book is pretty short and reads fast, with many pictures throughout. Then, I happened across the book, "Operation Mincemeat" by Ben MacIntyre. This book details the story of "The Man Who Never Was" from it's earliest origins in the first World War to the very last jot and tittle of the story, ending in the 1990's. Many facts are uncovered that were never allowed to be revealed in the '50's when the original book came out, such as who was the "Man Who Never Was", the real story behind "Bill" and "Pam", and all sorts of interesting tidbits surrounding the main players and supporting cast of the plot, as well as even more photographs. These two books can read several ways. You could read choose to read one or the other. You could read one and skim-read through the other. You could read the short and vague version first, then "fill in" with the detailed "Mincemeat" book. Or you could read "Mincemeat" and then check out the original "MWNW". However you choose to inform yourself, be aware that "MWNW" is really just the "minced meat" [pun intended] of the story. And "Mincemeat" is bogged down with more than what you'd probably want to know. I ended up read "MWNW" cover to cover, but skim read the interesting parts of the story in "Mincemeat". And then there is the movie. The real Ewen Montagu actually makes a cameo appearance in the Hollywoodized version. As MacIntyre puts it, "This was a wonderfully surreal moment: the real Montagu addressing his fictional persona, in a work of filmic fiction, based on reality, which had originated in fiction." Enjoy!
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