Friday, November 9, 2012

Spies, Code Talkers and Deceit in War

I listened to two audiobooks and read an ebook that I thought would group nicely together in a review because all dealt with deception in wartime.  From the straightforward story of the Navajo code talkers in the South Pacific in WWII, the MI 5 operation in Britain that fooled the Nazis in the D-Day landings to the the work of the British code breakers in WWI we have the work of small groups of creative people that changed the course of history.

Code Talker by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila, read by David Colacci, Tanter Audio, 9 hours, 36 mins. December 2011

Nice WWII story about the Navajos who used their unique language to encode military info in the South Pacific. You also get  a look  into Navajo life in the 20th century as the author Chester Nez relates his life story.  It is a straight on story with out much editorial input or reflection on the part of the author.  Well read by David Colacci.

The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara Tuchman, read by Wanda McCaddum.  Blackstone Audio, 7hrs, 11 mins.

All of the inside scoop on the entry of the US into WWI.  Background on the British code breaking effort (Room 40) and the personalities of the US, British and German players in international diplomacy.  Nobody is better than Tuchman at writing narrative history.  She hooked me years ago when I first read Guns of August.       Witty and irreverent in her writing, she is a pleasure to read.  She is able to take what are often long dead and faceless people and bring them to life.  First published in 1966 this story is as fresh today as it was then.  She is my all time favorite writer of history.  I listened to this one and was well served by the reading style of Wanda McCaddum.  She is a master of accents and easily slips between German, English and American.  At 7 hours a great audio book.

Double Cross by Ben McIntyre Crown Publishers, July 2012

Ben McIntyre is a talented story teller.  He weaves together the story of the British double agents who feed information to the Germans throughout WWII.  This eclectic group of people were as different from each other as was possible.  A Polish patriot, a Argentine society playgirl, a Serbian gambler, a Spanish patriot and a host of others make up the cast.  Their British handlers are the most imaginative group.  Throughout the war these people feed the Germans a combination of true but unimportant facts and patently false data. leading up to their master deception - convincing the Germans that the Allies would land at Calais not Normandy.  This deception froze in place significant numbers of German soldiers defending Calais.  Eisenhower himself credited this group with ensuring the success of D-Day. This is a great story full of fascinating anecdotes, the story of the Royal Pigeon Service had me laughing out loud.  The deception effort itself is a quirky peculiar British activity, almost like a PG Wodehouse novel (he's in the story too!).  Great history, well told!  

No comments: