The Nazi Spy Ring in America: Hitler’s Agents, the FBI, and the Case That Stirred the Nation

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones. Georgetown Univ, $29.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-64712-004-7
Historian Jeffreys-Jones (We Know All About You) delivers a solid rundown of the unmasking of a German espionage network in the U.S. prior to WWII. Tracking the spy ring’s origins to the arrival of Abwehr agent Leon Lonkowski in New Jersey in 1927, Jeffreys-Jones explains how spies gathered information at U.S. naval shipyards, airplane factories, arms research facilities, and military bases. Documents and parcels were sent back to Germany via ocean liners and through a hairdresser in Scotland, who forwarded them to intelligence officers in Hamburg. One such message, intercepted in 1938 and decoded by British agents, outlined a plan to steal America’s east coast defense plans. Alerted by MI5, American authorities launched an investigation headed by FBI agent Leon Turrou, who had previously helped to crack the Lindbergh kidnapping case. Though four Nazi spies were eventually convicted and sentenced to prison, Turrou ran afoul of FBI officials for selling his story of the case to the New York Post. Jeffreys-Jones, however, credits him with helping to awaken the American public to the Nazi threat and with galvanizing support for U.S. military and intelligence services. Though his prose rarely soars, Jeffreys-Jones packs the narrative with fine-grained details and memorable character sketches. Espionage buffs will want to take a look. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/26/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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