Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day

Stephan Talty. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-547-61481-6
Epic intelligence coups of WWII unreel in this colorful caper saga. Journalist Talty (Empire of Blue Water) recounts the exploits of Juan Pujol, an idealistic Spanish chicken farmer and hotelier who ran an ingenious free-lance scam to feed German intelligence officers in Spain fabricated information from an England he had never seen, then persuaded the initially dismissive British to accept him as a double agent. Derring-do subsides to theatrical fraud once Pujols is safely ensconced in London as Agent Garbo, with a network of 27 fictitious pro-Nazi spies, including an imaginary mistress in the War Office, and a team of real British intelligence officers who scripted the misleading dispatches he radioed to the enthralled Germans. Garbo’s greatest feat was to help convince Hitler to divert troops from Normandy to Calais to await a second Allied invasion that never came. Talty’s Pujol is a captivating character with a talent for operatic confabulation, but Garbo is just the alluring lead in massive deceptions that the author likens to Hollywood productions, complete with rubber tanks, fake ships, and a Montgomery impersonator. The result is a rollicking story of wartime eccentrics and their labyrinthine mind games. Photos. Agent: Scott Waxman, Waxman Literary Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2012
Release date: 07/01/2012
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