Deception Operations Generally

M - Pn

Macintyre, Ben. Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II. London: Bloomsbury, 2010. Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured Allied Victory. New York: Crown, 2010.

Peake, Studies 54.2 (Jun. 2010) and Intelligencer 18.1 (Fall-Winter 2010), finds that this work comes closer to telling fully the story of Operation Mincemeat than Ewen Montagu, The Man Who Never Was (1953). In Macintyre's hands, this "is a great story, well told, and a welcome corrective to intelligence history." For Oman, Parameters 41.2 (Summer 2011), this work "is extremely interesting, well written, and exhaustively researched."

Maskelyne, Jasper. Magic -- Top Secret. London & New York: Stanley Paul, 1949.

Constantinides: Maskelyne provides "a generalized, rather skimpy account" of his work in camouflage and illusion efforts in World War II.

Masterman, John Cecil. The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939-1945. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1972. New York: Avon Books, 1972. [pb] New York: Ballantine, 1982. [pb]

Clark comment: Masterman was head of BI(a), the counterespionage arm of MI5, during World War II, and chaired the Twenty (XX) Committee that managed the German agents captured and turned beginning in 1940. Pforzheimer notes that the author "wrote this text as an official classified history"; as released, there has been sanitization. The book remains a "veritable classic treatise" on counterintelligence and deception. The lack of direct references to the Ultra material, which was used to check on the success of these operations, is a major void in the Masterman's presentation.

According to Constantinides, The Double-Cross System is "one of the great works of intelligence literature, an outstanding one in the area of deception, and perhaps the greatest work yet written on double agents." Sexton notes that this "slender volume ought to be essential reading for those seriously interested in intelligence and deception."

In a excellent article that is more than a book review, A.V. Knobelspiesse, "Masterman Revisited," Studies in Intelligence 18, no. 1 (Spring 1974): 25-40, proclaims that "Masterman's book ... merits the appellation 'seminal.'" The work presents "lean, impersonal, underplayed facts," and "combines brevity and conciseness with donnish elegance and challenge.... The codification of [counterintelligence] operational principles which accompanies Masterman's double agent case facts makes this the only book of its kind in public print.... The underlying thrust of the methodological theory and wisdom set out in this book ... apply to any time and to any adversary."

For the debates surrounding Masterman's release of his work and some of the follow-on controversies, see John C. Campbell, "A Retrospective on John Masterman's The Double-Cross System," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 18, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 320-353. See also, E.D.R. Harrison, "J.C. Masterman and the Security Service, 1940-72," Intelligence and National Security 24, no. 6 (Dec. 2009): 769-804.

Miller, Russell. Codename TRICYCLE: The True Story of the Second World War's Most Extraordinary Double Agent. London: Secker & Warburg, 2004.

Peake, Studies 49.1 (2005), finds that the author "adds new details to the TRICYCLE story.... He provides many interesting new facts about the Double Cross System and TRICYCLE's handing by MI5, although analysis of their significance in some cases is open to challenge.... [A]lthough Popov was unquestionably a valuable double agent for four years, nothing in the book or his file supports the author's contention that TRICYCLE was the 'most extraordinary double agent' in the Second World War.... [T]he careless errors and many undocumented comments place the book in the easy-to-read-but-of-limited-scholarly-value category."

Montagu, Ewen E.S.

1. Beyond Top Secret Ultra. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1978. London: P. Davies, 1977.

Pforzheimer notes that Montagu was the Naval Intelligence member of the XX Committee. In particular, he handled the Ultra and Abwehr traffic pertaining to naval deception and intelligence activities within the Committee. He was also the case officer for Operation Mincemeat (see his The Man Who Never Was). "These memoirs are highly authoritative, as well as a charming and well-written contribution to the literature of intelligence." Constantinides calls the book an "outstanding memoir of intelligence" in which there are "many items and anecdotes to delight or to enlighten." However, he finds the chapter on Mincemeat "disappointing in that it contributes nothing new."

2. The Man Who Never Was. London: Evans, 1953. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1954. Rev. ed., 1967. [pb] New York: Bantam, 1964. [pb] With a new introduction by Alan Stripp. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001.

Clark comment: The author, who was in charge of the operation, tells the story of Operation Mincemeat, the British deception operation that preceded the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. Stripp's introduction to the 1996 edition seeks to place the operation into the broader context of World War II. Commenting on earlier editions, Pforzheimer sees The Man Who Never Was as an "excellent example of applied cover and deception," while Constantinides suggests that the author "has not told everything or given all details" about Mincemeat.

Müller, Klaus-Jürgen "A German Perspective on Allied Deception Operations in the Second World War." Intelligence and National Security 2, no. 3 (Jul. 1987): 301-326.

The author takes issue with the positive evaluation of Allied strategic deception operations by such writers as Ewen Montagu. "[V]ery often ... an exaggerated evaluation of the effects of deception operations is well founded.... Even where these strategems were 'bought' by those they were sold to, their effect at the strategic level was minimal in many cases. Deception at the tactical level, however, was very often successful."

David Hunt, "Remarks on 'A German Perspective on Allied Deception Operations,'" Intelligence and National Security 3, no. 1 (Jan. 1988), 190-194, argues that "Müller is in error in supposing that Mincemeat ... did not work and had no effect on German strategy; and ... he has misunderstood the nature of the aims that the Allies were pursuing in the Mediterranean."

Mure, David.

Mure served in Dudley Clarke's A Force in the Middle East during World War II.

1. Master of Deception: Tangled Webs in London and the Middle East. London: Kimber, 1980.

Clark comment: This is chronologically the second of Mure's two books listed here on the deception work of Dudley Clarke's A Force in the Middle East during World War II. The first book, Practise to Deceive, is the better of the two books to read. Constantinides notes that this account is more pointed to "polemics against the Londoners and civilians in deception work." Additionally, there are "questionable facts and opinions" in this account.

2. Practise to Deceive. London: Kimber, 1977.

Constantinides notes that Mure has sought to balance the scales by giving Clarke and his deception work in the Mediterranean and the Middle East a level of recognition usually accorded only to London-run activities.

Owen, David. Battle of Wits: A History of Psychology and Deception in Modern Warfare. London: Leo Cooper, 1978.

To Constantinides, Owen does a better job covering deception than he does covering psychological factors. The book is primarily from the British standpoint. There are neither references nor a bibliography.

Park, Edwards. "A Phantom Division Played a Role in Germany's Defeat." At: From The Smithsonian, Apr. 1985.

The focus here is the U.S. Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. The 23rd's troops "specialized in impersonating other troops.... For 268 days in mid-1944 and early l945, the 23rd's 82 officers and 1,023 enlisted men pretended. at one time or another, to be the 5th Armored Division, the 4th Infantry Division, the 6th Armored Division, the 90th Infantry Division and many other Army outfits hard at work in the hedgerows and forests of northern Europe. With inflatable rubber guns and vehicles, with ever-changing shoulder patches, stencils to make phony signs, and with amplified recordings of heavy equipment in action, the 23rd played role after role."

This article is available on the Laynor Foundation Museum site [] dedicated to Harold A. Laynor (1922-1991), an American artist who served with the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, a unit of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, in World War II.

Phillips, William W. "The Ghost Army of World War II." 1996. At:

This article concerns the U.S. Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops or the "Ghost Army." The 23rd is "unique in the history of American warfare in that it was a battlefront battalion composed largely of artists, sculptors, architects, literary figures and others from the arts and humanities. Many of the new recruits were already famous; others would win celebrity stripes after the war. They included Olin Dows...; Bill Blass...; Elsworth Kelly...; George Diestel...; Art Kane...; and Harold A. Laynor."

This article is available on the Laynor Foundation Museum site [] dedicated to Harold A. Laynor (1922-1991), an American artist who served with the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, a unit of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, in World War II.

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