New books about espionage provide behind-the-scenes looks at various theaters of war.

The Vatican’s response to the Holocaust has been the source of much controversy among scholars. In Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler (Basic, Oct.), Mark Riebling, author of Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11 (Touchstone, 2002), offers a new explanation for Pope Pius XII’s muted response to the Nazis’ genocide: that the pontiff was involved in an espionage ring that planned to kill Hitler.

Douglas Waller follows up Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage (Free Press, 2011) with Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors Who Fought for Wild Bill Donovan (Simon & Schuster, Oct.), which offers a different look at future CIA directors Allen Dulles, Bill Casey, Bill Colby, and Richard Helms. Before those four headed up U.S. intelligence, they were on the ground, leading secret missions throughout Europe.

Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris (Crown, Aug.) by Alex Kershaw (The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau; Crown, 2012) introduces readers to Sumner Jackson, an American living in France with his family near the Gestapo’s Paris headquarters, who became involved with the French Resistance’s Liberation network.

Damien Lewis, author of Zero Six Bravo (Quercus, 2014), links WWII to today’s way of spying in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill’s Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops (Quercus, Sept.). Lewis highlights a motley crew of survivalists, social misfits, and convicted criminals whose distinct skills enabled them to work independently behind the German lines.

Double Cross in Cairo: The True Story of the Spy Who Turned the Tide of War in the Middle East (Biteback, Nov.) by military historian Nigel West (MI5 in the Great War; Biteback, 2014), based on recently declassified files, relates the story of Jewish double agent Renato Levi, “one of the Allies’ most devastating weapons in World War Two,” who pretended to build an extensive spy ring for the Germans in North Africa and the Middle East—which was actually a masterpiece of misinformation that helped to distort enemy estimates of Allied battle plans.

Of course, any intelligence operation is conceived and executed in the context of a country’s espionage history and philosophy. In Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence (FSG, Sept.), Jonathan Haslam (Russia’s Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall; Yale Univ., 2011) provides a broad look at one of the world’s most notorious intelligence services and focuses on elements of Soviet espionage beyond the KGB.

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