Superman never made any money for saving the world from Solomon Grundy

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Don't read this book

So, there's this book I may have read called Agent Garbo by Stephen Talty. It is the story of Juan Pujol, a Spanish national who was the grandest double-agent of World War 2 - rising in the ranks of field agents for the Abwehr, the German intelligence network, all while feeding them a detailed narrative crafted in the back rooms of MI5, the British espionage agency. A gifted con artist and fabulist, Pujol created a vast and imaginary organization of informers that convinced the Nazis he was their most valuable asset and that he was providing solid intelligence. His greatest triumph was obfuscating the details of the D-Day invasion, a task tantamount to distracting a big game hunter so they wouldn't notice the elephant in their tent.

I haven't read a military history like this - both in content and quality of writing - since The Catcher was a Spy, the story of More Berg. Talty combines a historian's eye for detailed information with the pacing of natural storyteller. Even though we know the ending (at least in broad stokes), the book keeps the suspense high until the very last.

I want you to think it's a great book and read it. If I was as good a manipulator as Pujol, what I would do is talk about other books until you brought this one up, and then casually dismiss but in a way that kept your interest, and then you would tell me that you wanted to read it, and I would agree that yes, you are right, you probably should, what a great idea.

But I'm not that good, so just read it, if you have any interest in WW2, spies, deception, psychology, or human nature.

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