Friday, 27 July 2012

Book review

Double Cross - by Ben MacIntyre

This was one of the books I'd been saving up for my holiday. I've been a fan of Ben MacIntyre's books ever since I read Operation Mincemeat a few years ago. Agent Zigzag was a real treat last year on the World Book Night 2011 list and I was really looking forward to this one.

I didn't get to read it as quickly as I'd have liked as Mr Norfolkbookworm wanted to read it first and he is not the fastest of readers.

The wait was worth it, as ever the narrative was engaging and accessible. There is just the right amount of technical and historical detail to fully round out the story but this never swamps the human stories that are the key to the tale.

I have two criticisms of the book - one of my own and one from Mr Norfolkbookworm.

I found the constant use of cricketing terms really got on my nerves after a while. I can see why they are used - old boys' network, typically British etc. etc. but even though I am a cricketing fan they stuck out like a sore thumb to me as they were used so much. I do worry that if you aren't familiar with the terms then you might think this was another secret code being smuggled into a books about spies.

It was an anachronism that stuck out for Mr. N - one of the spies is given a transistor radio at one point. From the outset Mr. N said that this was too early for such a device and to prove this hunted out an Internet hotspot to look this up and according to Wikipedia he was right.  The version of the book I read was a proof thanks to the Netgalley website so this may have been corrected in the final draft but once I knew that there was an error like this in the book I was constantly wondering if there were many other errors in the book.

In general this was an excellent book, I found that the twists and turns of the double/triple/quadruple agents clear and exciting and while we do now know the outcome of WW2 at the time it was far more uncertain and this book really explores another side of the battles we fought.

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