• Operation Mincemeat

  • How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
  • By: Ben Macintyre
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (1,452 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Ben Macintyre’s Agent Zigzag was hailed as “rollicking, spellbinding” (New York Times), “wildly improbable but entirely true” (Entertainment Weekly), and, quite simply, “the best book ever written” (Boston Globe). In his new book, Operation Mincemeat, he tells an extraordinary story that will delight his legions of fans.

In 1943, from a windowless basement office in London, two brilliant intelligence officers conceived a plan that was both simple and complicated - Operation Mincemeat. The purpose? To deceive the Nazis into thinking that Allied forces were planning to attack Southern Europe by way of Greece or Sardinia, rather than Sicily, as the Nazis had assumed, and the Allies ultimately chose. Charles Cholmondeley of MI5 and the British naval intelligence officer Ewen Montagu could not have been more different. Cholmondeley was a dreamer seeking adventure. Montagu was an aristocratic, detail-oriented barrister. But together they were the perfect team and created an ingenious plan: Get a corpse, equip it with secret (but false and misleading) papers concerning the invasion, then drop it off the coast of Spain where German spies would, they hoped, take the bait. The idea was approved by British intelligence officials, including Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond). Winston Churchill believed it might ring true to the Axis and help bring victory to the Allies.

Filled with spies, double agents, rogues, fearless heroes, and one very important corpse, the story of Operation Mincemeat reads like an international thriller.

Unveiling never-before-released material, Ben Macintyre brings the listener right into the minds of intelligence officers, their moles, and spies, and the German Abwehr agents who suffered the “twin frailties of wishfulness and yesmanship”. He weaves together the eccentric personalities of Cholmondeley and Montagu and their near-impossible feats into a riveting adventure that not only saved thousands of lives but paved the way for a pivotal battle in Sicily and, ultimately, Allied success in the war.

©2001 Ewen Montagu (P)2010 Random House
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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
    5 out of 5 stars

A Great Reading Pleasure

I am drawn to historical fiction and non-fiction. This book feels like fiction, but is actually true! It is well narrated, intelligent and compelling. It is an amazing cat & mouse spy game between the British, Americans, Spanish and Germans. Although you know the ending from the start, it's a wonderful ride. I highly recommend it!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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

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

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