This was a great read. Highly recommend.
True story, worth a read if you are interested in; things English from a while back, or wwII (for younger readers of this review, be advised, ww is not same as www.--.com ) or espionage, etc. Like 'Three day road' (Joseph Boyden), or 'All the light we cannot see' (Anthony Doerr) but not made up (!). As a committed non-fiction reader this book just reinforces my belief that the real world is just so much more interesting and relevant than fiction. I was somewhat put off by the cover and almost did not read it but was glad I did. This book was a good read, a tad dry. (Wondered if Chapman was a psychopath but this was not mentioned.) Real story, amazing how the author pulled it together 60 years after the fact.
Ben Macintyre writes in a very smooth style, making you feel like you are reading a novel, except that the action has really happened. Given the meticulous bibliography, as a layperson, I trust that the narrative corresponds to the facts. Even so, I did spot two fairly glaring mistakes in his books, but they do not affect the main narrative.
One regards the code breakers who enabled British (and American) services to keep a close eye on German thought. It is amazing that no mention at all is made of the main mathematical genius who made it all possible, that is Alan Turing. The book seems recent enough that it should have had access to the full story. By the way, the decryption was not as walk-in-the-park as Ben describes it - changes in the Enigma machines created several bumps, even though the main hurdles were with the Navy codes.
The other mistake is in the statement that Stalin helped the Greek insurrection against the king that the Brits imposed on them after the war and that was crushed quite violently by Britain and America. As a matter of fact, Stalin broke with Yugoslavia's Tito (after which "Titoist" was as damning a "sin" as "Trotskyte" in orthodox Soviet-style communism), precisely because Tito insisted on providing aid to the Greeks, against strict orders. Stalin took Yalta at face value, and Greece was part of Britain's "sphere of influence", hence off limits.
It's an interesting story, and I was convinced that the author did his research. Given the rather breathless and admiring approach, though, this might have made a better fact-based novel.
Eddie Chapman is quite a character. I love books like this that introduce you to people who played a vital role in WWII but whom you've probably never heard of.
good for a guy-read recommendation
Sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction; a rollicking good story about a resourceful rogue in wartime.
What a wonderful read! And it is a true story - that is what really kept me hooked, I couldn't put it down and my wife felt the same way.
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