Monday, 23 January 2012

Book Review: Operation Mincemeat

I can't get this book out of my head, it was absolutely brilliant...

First of all, I'll start by telling you why I read this book - I had run out of things to read! My brother gave George this book amongst others to read while we were away, George read it in I think our first week here and loved it. i didn't fancy it at all, i thought it was a 'boys' book about the war, fighting and spies etc. But I was completely wrong..

One overcast April morning in 1943, a fisherman notices a corpse floating in the sea off the coast of Spain. When the body is brought ashore, it is identified as British Soldier, Major William Martin of the Royal Marines. A leather attache case, secured to his belt reveals an intelligence gold mine: top secret allied invasion plans.

But Major William Martin never existed. The body is that of a dead Welsh tramp and every single documetn is fake. Operation Mincemeat is the tru story of the most extraordinary deception plan ever planned by Churchill's spies - an outrageous lie that travelled from a Whitehall basement, all the way to Hitlers desk. 

The plot reveals the whole story, but the book goes much deeper. It tells the story of each character involved, detailing their background, what their part was in the operation and why they were chosen for their particular part. Which took this story away from my first perception of a 'boys' book, and turned it into one of the best books I have ever read. 

The plan doesn't always run smoothly, and although from the synopsis you know the Operation is a success, it keeps you right on the edge of your seat and you go through the emotions with the men and understand how they must have been feeling at each stage, the nerves, the suspense, the elation! 

The book is well written, well researched and easy to follow. My copy had a postscript at the back too where the author talks about letters he received, following the release of the book which I found interesting.

I had no idea really that spies did this kind of work - I thought a spy simply got into the enemies camp and fed information back, but no, that is just one small part. 

It reminded me of when I went to the Imperial War Museum in London a few years ago. I really didn't appreciate the museum as much as I would now being a little older. I think I was 18, I had been out the night before and had to borrow some of my cousins clothes which didn't fit as I hadn't packed appropriately, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a museum! One of the main memories of the museum, was in the submarine section; you could lie on one of the beds which showed you just how small and cramped it was for the men. I lay on a bed, and when I moved a man jumped out of his skin thinking I was part of the exhibition...although that story still makes me laugh, I think it shows that I need to re-visit the museum. I remember rushing through the spy section, that was too boring! I wanted to get to the part where they simulated an air raid! But, that could also be partly blamed on School - we were only really taught about the home front, rashions etc..

I have digressed slightly, but this book will definately stay with me for a while and has encouraged me to read & learn more about WW2, and i definately want to visit the Imperial War Museum again!!

Highly recommended, to anyone really. Those with an interest in WW2, or even those who don't, as I think this could change your mind - it has changed mine. 

Gemma xx

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