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  • Operation Mincemeat

  • The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II
  • By: Ben Macintyre
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,674 ratings)

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Summary

Now a major film, starring Colin Firth, Matthew Mcfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilson, Johnny Flynn and Jason Isaacs.

A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.

A Sunday Times number one best seller.

April, 1943: A sardine fisherman spots the corpse of a British soldier floating in the sea off the coast of Spain and sets off a train of events that would change the course of the Second World War.

Operation Mincemeat was the most successful wartime deception ever attempted, and the strangest. It hoodwinked the Nazi espionage chiefs, sent German troops hurtling in the wrong direction and saved thousands of lives by deploying a secret agent who was different, in one crucial respect, from any spy before or since: he was dead. His mission: to convince the Germans that instead of attacking Sicily, the Allied armies planned to invade Greece.

This is the true story of the most extraordinary deception ever planned by Churchill’s spies: an outrageous lie that travelled from a Whitehall basement all the way to Hitler’s desk.

Cover artwork courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

©2010 Ben Macintyre (P)2010 Random House

Critic reviews

"A rollicking read for all those who enjoy a spy story so fanciful that Ian Fleming - himself an officer in Montagu's wartime department - would never have dared to invent it." (Max Hastings, Sunday Times)

"Brilliant and almost absurdly entertaining." (New Yorker)

"Astonishing.... Sheds riveting new light on this breath taking plan." (Daily Mail)

What listeners say about Operation Mincemeat

Average customer ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

The egos, the inspirations, the obstacles and the luck....it's all in here. A fascinating account of a clandestine operation of misinformation to support the Allied campaign.

Meticulously researched, and well presented, this is a must read/listen for any student of WWII.

Because it includes so many personal touches regarding the individuals involved, it does feel more like a story rather than a dry a documentary - and a fascinating story indeed. Remarkable they pulled it off too.....perhaps luck played a large part, and some useful double agents to help, but still a cunning plan!

Very much outside my normal listening genre, but I feel more informed for it.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Just Brilliant

From start to finish I enjoyed every minute. the story, the people in it, and the best of it is, it's all true a great listen.

15 people found this helpful

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Very thorough recreation of events

This is quite a fun little adventure that if it wasn't true would probably be unbelievable. The Nazi's come across as quite gullible considering the fate of the whole war is at stake. The Brits are a bunch of comedians, I love the myopic racing driver (Horsfall) entrusted with the delivery.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A supurb story, More so because it is true.

I have always been interested in history, especially the second world war and with new and interesting facts coming to light every year it is great to hear of things we might never have imagined...This is one such story it is a compelling, interesting and fact based review of an amazing plot to foil Hitler and it worked.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Full Story of "The Man Who Never Was."

We all know the story of 'The Man Who Never Was' - an imaginative ploy to trick the Germans late in WWII.

'Operation Mincemeat' is to 'The Man Who Never Was' in the same wau that the musical 'Wicked' is to 'The Wizard Of Oz'. I thought I knew the story of the deception, but as it turned out, I didn't know jack.

'The Man Who Never Was' was written in post-War Britain with too many secrets needing to remain secret. It edits much of the truth and recasts far too many characters. The subsequent film does what films do and rewrites the story for a Hollywood mindset.

'Operation Mincemeat' is a comprehensive telling of the story. That means it may be a little longer than it otherwise needs to be, but at the end, every imaginable question you have will have been addressed, crossreferenced and reiterated.

18 people found this helpful

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Fascinating detail

This is a well read/voiced book which is packed with an amazing amount of detail and background information. At times the level of detail feels a little over the top, but on reflection it really adds to the story. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in WW2 history.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Espionage at its best.

This book reads like a far-fetched, 'Boys Own' war-novel and keeps you interested from start to finish. It is well researched, well written and adopts a great pace. Each extraordinary character is introduced with their background, reputation and contribution clearly described and incorporated into the fascinating story of Operation Mincemeat. The historical importance of this operation is undeniable and this book brings the story to the reader/listener with an honest documenting of the combination of skill, legerdemain, nerve and blind luck that led to its success. If you like mystery novels, historical documentaries or action & adventure books, then this is a combination of all three and you should really enjoy it. Well done to the author for a widely researched, well written and exciting book. It is a high-quality production with excellent narration.

13 people found this helpful

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Excellent true story

What made the experience of listening to Operation Mincemeat the most enjoyable?

All the previously unreported details of the operation

What other book might you compare Operation Mincemeat to, and why?

Agent Zigzag due to period and detail.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

Understated and appropriate.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Admiration for what was achieved.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent listen

After being recommended to me this has been one of the most enjoyable audiobooks i have purchased. The story is great and the narrator really brings the characters to life.

9 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 21-05-15

A Successful Operation!

A story that sounds that it has been dreamt up by a film studio this is an tremendously entertaining look at one of the most remarkable events of World War 2. Well written and narrated this would appeal to not only World War 2 enthusiasts but also anyone who loves a good spy story!

Moving along at a fast pace this book was over much to quickly and I would have happily listen to a book twice this length on the subject!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anniebligh
  • 19-11-11

More than Mincemeat

John Lee always seems to read well. While this account is packed with interesting information, it was at times rambling, with some details repeated again and again. Perhaps it was Ben Macintyre's style of writing I found annoying. The task was no doubt difficult. There are still stories within stories, one mystery within another and many of these could be stand alone accounts. It may be this account reads better, as hard copy than having it read in audio format.
If you are interested in WW11, have read and loved 'Catch 22', then this will flesh out a little more of what was going on in the Mediterranean.
It is well worth a listen

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Steven
  • 27-03-11

History, journalism and war story all in one

MacIntyre has been criticised for rehashing a story previously told by others (both here and in Agent ZigZag) and while this is technically true I doubt anyone has written these most intriguing stories with as much style as MacIntyre. His writing flits from reportage to crime novel to historical document to romance in the space of a single page. The narrator, John Lee is superb, maintaining a good pace which enhances the tension of the story. Definitely worth buying, but you'll struggle to turn it off - make sure you have lots of vacation time.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Paolo Gramigna
  • 26-12-18

Very documented and accurate

This is not fiction. It is real history in any detail. I enjoyed any moment of it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susan
  • 19-05-22

Just brilliant

Thus us a true story which is brilliantly told and so interesting. A great read

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  • Alice Watchorn
  • 19-03-22

So good it has to be true!

Phenomenal story and the narrator is absolutely brilliant. A fascinating look back at an act that hugely impacted the war effort.

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  • Me_Mo
  • 26-09-21

A breathtakingly exciting story very well narrated

I loved this audacious and implausible sounding story, while of course never doubting its credibility.

Historian Ben McIntyre built it up to be both exciting, factual and personal.

The narrator was very good.

Highly recommended.

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  • Ryan C.
  • 14-07-19

a great true story

reads like a cool spy novel. amazing lengths that these gents went to for pulling off one of the biggest deceptions in ww2. I will say the narrator has a horrible time speaking with a german or russian accent. he sounds like a bad version of count Dracula. other than that great non fiction

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  • Garry
  • 21-04-13

Excellent story

What made the experience of listening to Operation Mincemeat the most enjoyable?

I found this story enjoyable as it would make such a great spy movie.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Operation Mincemeat?

memorable, hmm, interesting question for this story for me I suppose to consider that a death can make a difference and save thousands of lives is well proven.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

enjoyable is all I can have

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Neither laugh or cry, but made a tad feeling that war could be fun. I do not mean this disrespectfully for the operation saved lives however, this was the nature of the spying game. I do not consider for one moment the British Agents did as the effort involved and risk would have been to the detriment of lives.

Any additional comments?

A good companion piece to Agent Zig Zag

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  • Geoffrey
  • 19-12-12

Too much mince and not enough meat

What did you like best about Operation Mincemeat? What did you like least?

The book gave an interesting insight into the thinking and motivation of the British Secret Service during war time.The author continually deviated from the story line by providing the most intricate decsriptions of the characters and of the locations where the action was happening.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Difficult to pick one out.

How could the performance have been better?

By introducing more first person narrative.

Could you see Operation Mincemeat being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I think that Operation Mincemeat would probably make a good movie. It has an unusual plot with the potential for some quite animated drama. A certain amount of producer's licence would be required and the title would have to be ditched.

Any additional comments?

I liked this yarn, it had all the elements of a good spy story complete with double and even triple agents all being suckered by the crafty MI5. The only downside was the padding. This book could have been half as long if only half the characteres were given the full life story treatment and the others blended in as befitted the minor part they played.

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  • Michael
  • 10-05-12

The devil is in the detail

Is there anything you would change about this book?

A little less detail. Some of the facts where just clouding the story and padding.

What did you like best about this story?

The chapters dealt with the subject and didn't fly off in tangents or repeat previous material over and over again.

Which character – as performed by John Lee – was your favorite?

They were all good.

Do you think Operation Mincemeat needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Nope

Any additional comments?

I think this book should be made into a mini-series with all the facts. As they say, the facts are stranger than fiction. The 1956 movie was good, but Hollywood being the town it is, had to change the story slightly. Needs to be told proper now.