Agents of Influence: A British Campaign, a Canadian Spy, and the Secret Plot to Bring America into World War II

Henry Hemming. Public Affairs, , $28 ISBN 978-1-5417-4214-7
Hemming (Agent M) delivers a lucid, fast-paced account of England’s secret scheme to draw America into WWII. Shortly after the June 1940 Dunkirk evacuation, Canadian-born MI6 agent Bill Stephenson launched the “largest state-sponsored influence campaign ever run on American soil.” Drawing on newly declassified British records, Hemming reveals how Stephenson’s staff infiltrated interventionist groups such as the Anti-Nazi League; spread “distorted” news stories; and manipulated public opinion polls. The MI6 agents were clandestinely helped by notable Americans, including Time magazine publisher Henry Luce and lawyer William “Wild Bill” Donovan, who, with Stephenson’s guidance, set up the Office of the Coordinator of Information, America’s “first centralized intelligence agency.” In addition to recounting Stephenson’s covert operations, Hemming documents the activities of prominent isolationists including Charles Lindbergh, and the efforts of senior German diplomat Hans Thomsen to keep America out of the war. The broad outlines of Hemming’s story are familiar, but his crisp narrative is enlivened by his family connection to the story: his grandparents were friends with, and may have worked for, Stephenson. This entertaining espionage history illuminates an important chapter in the history of foreign influence on American public opinion. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 10/04/2019
Release date: 10/08/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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