Read Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day by Stephan Talty Online


Were the D-Day landings saved from failure because of a lone secret agent?Agent Garbo tells the astonishing story of a self-made secret agent who matched wits with the best minds of the Third Reich — and won. Juan Pujol was a nobody, a Barcelona poultry farmer determined to oppose the Nazis. Using only his gift for daring falsehoods, Pujol became Germany’s most valued agenWere the D-Day landings saved from failure because of a lone secret agent?Agent Garbo tells the astonishing story of a self-made secret agent who matched wits with the best minds of the Third Reich — and won. Juan Pujol was a nobody, a Barcelona poultry farmer determined to oppose the Nazis. Using only his gift for daring falsehoods, Pujol became Germany’s most valued agent — or double agent: it took four tries before the British believed he was really on the Allies’ side.In the guise of Garbo, Pujol turned in a masterpiece of deception worthy of his big-screen namesake. He created an imaginary million-man army, invented armadas out of thin air, and brought a vast network of fictional subagents whirring to life. His unwitting German handlers believed every word, and banked on Garbo’s lies as their only source of espionage within Great Britain.For his greatest performance, Pujol had to convince the German High Command that the D-Day invasion of Normandy was a feint and the real attack was aimed at Calais. The Nazis bought it, turning the tide of battle at the crucial moment.Based on years of archival research and interviews with Pujol’s family, Agent Garbo is a true-life thriller set in the shadow world of espionage and deception....

Title : Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780547614816
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day Reviews

  • Rebecca
    2019-05-18 01:23

    I'd started to hear about the enormous fictional army that fooled the Nazis back when I was a child, but I feel like a lot more detail has become public knowledge in recent years. While I doubt any single book could encompass the sudden professionalization of the Great Game, this one does a very thorough, and fascinating, job portraying a single, key agent.Juan Pujol, who would later be codenamed "Garbo", was a complete loser, a dreamer who failed at nearly everything he touched. Until he decided to make it his life's mission to stop the Nazis. Without any backup of any kind, he walked into the German intelligence offices, spouting fabulous nonsense, and slowly hoodwinked them into believing that he was a major source. It took a surprisingly long time for the British to realize that he was feeding the Nazis misinformation and that he actively wanted to be a double agent for them, but once they did, his story really takes off. A host of dazzling personalities waltzes through Pujol's career, from Kim Philby to agents like Tricycle and Brutus to Hitler's own spymaster. And the capers they pull off are so audacious that they would look ridiculous in fiction. Pujol finally even has to con his own wife in the name of the cause. And it all leads up to one major test--disguising one of the largest invading armies the world has ever seen.The history is riveting and appears to be thoroughly researched. While there is no grand master thesis to be discovered, this book does an excellent job of revealing an undertold story that more than deserves to be told.

  • Tony
    2019-05-03 02:08

    AGENT GARBO: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day. (2013). Stephan Talty. ****.This work focuses on Juan Pujol, code named ‘Garbo.’ He was one of a raft of double agents that worked for MI6 during WW II whose task it was to provide Germany with misleading information and fanciful (but realistic) scenarios of how the Allied war planning was going to proceed. The author did a good job on gathering his facts together on Garbo and his various exploits, his major one being coming up with the plan and overseeing the subsequent execution of a fake invasion site for D-Day. His accomplishment was to divert large portions of the German force by making their leaders believe that the major thrust of the invasion of France was to occur at Pas de Calais instead of Normandy. The result was the saving of thousands of lives of Allied troops by reducing the opposing forces of the German armies at the landing site. He was also involved in a number of other scenarios that mislead the Geerman high command. To put the whole double agent scenario into perspective, I’d recommend that readers interested should also read “The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939 to 1945,” by J. C. Masterson. Masterson was on the executive council for the ‘Double-Cross’ group in England, and provides a broad overview of most all of the agents used, along with their code names and various exploits. Recommended.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-23 23:03

    It is rather strange to be reading this book in Russia. We in the west have grown up on heroic tales of World War II derring-do (of which this book is one), but here in Russia they have a different view of how the war was won. For them, the hard slog of repelling the Germans at Stalingrad was the decisive moment, not D-Day. It was in Russia that Hitler suffered his first defeat.27 million of their countrymen died in World War II, and (from what we’ve been told) Russians feel that western historians such as Antony Beevor tend to focus on poor German strategy and the bitter Russian winter as the causes of Hitler’s defeat, without acknowledging the incredible courage of Russian soldiers and civilians in the battle to force the German retreat from the USSR.I didn’t finish reading Beevor’s Stalingrad before we left home, so I don’t know if this impression is a fair one, or not. I’m merely reporting what we’ve seen and heard here. However from what I read of it, I think that Beevor does acknowledge that Stalingrad was won at least in part through sheer determination, fighting street-by-street with very limited resources while besieged on all sides. It may be a matter of degree. But Vasily Grossman’s account of this heroic battle in Life and Fate depicts the human face of it in a way that no non-fiction history could ever hope to do. That was what brought me nearly to tears when we visited the War Memorial at St Petersburg.The St Petersburg Memorial is on the outskirts of the city (then called Leningrad) and it shows just how close the Nazis came. Here as at Stalingrad they encircled the city and they besieged it for 900 days. No food or supplied could get in by land or sea, and the Nazis had control of the skies so there could be no food drops either. Hitler’s expressed intention was (contrary to his view of protecting Paris) that he wanted to obliterate the city, and the bombardment was intense. (You can see photos of how they trashed Pushkin, a satellite town southwest of St Petersburg when you visit Catherine’s Palace. You can also see the memorial to the Jews who were despatched to their deaths from there). Throughout our tour our guide told us incredible stories about how, as the Germans advanced, the golden turrets of the St Petersburg cathedrals were camouflaged to conceal where the centre of the city was, and how the treasures of the museums were spirited away to safety in eastern Russia or stashed in cellars and basements. But the statuary here shows the impact on ordinary civilians, how many of them died of starvation once the siege began and there was no way in or out of the city. The sheer scale of casualties impacts still on every St Petersburg family.Stephan Talty’s book, Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Double Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day, however, is about a different kind of war altogether, the world of spies and secret intelligence services. And it is a most amazing story.To read the rest of my review please visit

  • Cathi Davis
    2019-04-28 00:10

    Like reading wet cardboard The focus on the "brilliant" double agent seems misplaced. The real work was done by the British intelligence service. They appear to have taken a man's persona and then sequestered him away while they created and maintained a fictitious spy network in England. While true that their feints bought some precious time to shore up the D-Day invasion, Pujol's contribution appears negligible. A man who cut off all contact with his children, allowed his estranged wife to be told he was dead, and them married a sixteen year old for his second wife? To name only three fabulous events. I am giving up on these pseudo historical books. They are a pretense to scholarship with footnotes, bibliographies, indexes. But that doesn't make the research valid or strictly accurate. I feel like a story line was imagined and then told with no facts getting in the way. Shame on the WSJ for recommending this book. Reads like a turgid overblown bosom heaver. It was better than the book Agent Zig Zag. But not by much. What I really want to read is a careful analysis, if true as portrayed in these books, of why and how the nazis were such fools.

  • Jeff Raymond
    2019-05-16 01:00

    This was one of the most fascinating reads about World War II I've gotten my hands on in some time.In a recent issue of Mental Floss, it gave the basic details of the spymaster named Garbo who effectively paved the way for the D-Day invasion to have some success by successfully diverting Axis/Nazi resources to a fake invasion location. His act involved a significant number of false resources and leads along the way and is credited to some degree for helping win the war. A truly eccentric character, the story is almost unbelievable on a whole, but here it is.The book does suffer somewhat from a fairly disjointed narrative, and my natural skeptical instincts kicked in more often than not, but, on a whole, it's a fun read at the very least with a lot of interesting details about espionage in the era that I wasn't aware of. Definitely recommended for a lighter look.

  • Paul Lyons
    2019-05-03 21:26

    Juan Pujol was indeed a hero of World War II. Using his intelligence, and vast imagination...Pujol (as Agent Garbo) managed to fool Nazi Germany with false information, and elaborate fabrication for years...culminating in the ultimate deception by tricking the Germans into thinking that the D-Day invasion at Normandy was only a feint, with the real attack being staged further north. This one clever act saved thousands of lives, and turned the course of the war. However, Pujol, though a hero...isn't a particularly compelling character, and Stephen Talty's "Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day" isn't a particularly compelling book.Unlike, say, Ben Macintyre's page-turner "Agent Zig-Zag," which told the fascinating story of a criminal named Eddie Chapman who became an unconventional war hero though his work as a British double-agent..."Agent Garbo is a essentially a story of a spy who did all of his work sitting at a desk. His work was very important, mind you...yet that doesn't mean that it makes a good least not in the way Stephan Talty tells it. I found myself intrigued on some pages, and bored on others. Garbo was not a field the majority of the book deals with how Garbo/Pujol's deceitful messages affected the actions of the German high command...and the progress of the war. Too many times, I felt the book lost track of Pujol/Garbo's story...and instead focused on the events surrounding World War II.Who knows? Perhaps there IS a great story to tell about Juan Pujol...he deserves a great story. Yet Stephan Talty's "Agent Garbo" book is not it.

  • Tony Taylor
    2019-05-07 23:11

    Fascinating story about someone I never heard of before now. Garbo! Agent Garbo was a double-agent during WWII working in England for the British while sending false or almost false intelligence to the German spy agencies. He was a Spaniard from Madrid with almost no education and no training in the ways of being a spy, but using his imagination and inherent talents, he became the most famous spy of WWII and possibly of all time. His crowning glory was in being able to convince Hitler that the landing at Normandy (D-Day) was not the main invasion and that he should hold his tanks and troops elsewhere. Even after the landing had taken place, Hitler was so convinced that there would be a bigger invasion at Calais that he held his tanks and troops back for another two months. Agent Garbo was the only person in WWII who was awarded the Iron Cross by Germany as well as the OBE (Order of the British Empire).Anyone who enjoys intrigue or history will certainly enjoy this well written book about someone you never heard of before.

  • Bambi Wood
    2019-05-19 18:05

    This was very interesting story of Juan Pujol, a Spanish double agent in WWII who helped deceive the Nazi's into thinking that the landing in Normandy was a feint and the real invasion was coming later, Germany fell for the deception and kept a large portion of the army in Calais, waiting for the invasion that never came.This saved thousands of lives. Pujol was especially unusual because he decided on his own to become a spy for the Allies and had to first convince the Germans to hire him, then the English.

  • Trevor
    2019-05-05 19:14

    The start is quite intriguing, but when you get to the actuall deception and work in the war, there are too many prosey adjectives and fuzzy history. Granted I am pretty picky when it comes to history, and while I will say that this is written in a strong, popular, and readable style, the actual story that I wanted to hear gets quite thinned out by the other people in the war effort. The idea that "Garbo" tricked Hitler to save D-Day becomes harder to support as you see the large group of people who worked with him.Still, a well-written, semi-sparsely researched, and entertaining read.

  • Lorraine
    2019-05-20 22:19

    This book took me a long time to get through. It is beyond my ken to grasp the methods and lengths the Allies went through to deceive the Nazis. Some of the things done and designed sounded impossible to pull off. Trying to keep straight the real and pretend agents and battles had my head swimming, and I would have to put the book down and pick up totally mindless books. Then back to "Garbo." Did it stop me? No. I was fascinated by all the deception, and wanted to find out more.

  • Joan
    2019-04-29 22:24

    Beyond Belief!Juan Pujol, was born in 1912 in Barcelona, Spain. As a child, although small of stature, his mother considered him to be very wild, always injured because of his uncontrolled exuberance, incorrigible and no punishment seemed effective. He was not deliberately destructive, but his vivid, imagination caused him to become whoever he imagined, such as a knight, a desperado, or a cowboy like Tom Mix. Never malicious, however, he helped everyone. Although a mediocre student, he became fascinated with history and spoke five languages, Spanish, Catalan, French, English and Portuguese. His father despised war, bloody revolutions, unfair authority and advocated respecting the individuality of humans, their sorrows and sufferings.Barcelona was a highly combustible, dangerous place with political coups, religious frictions, riots and murders. Although Pujol’s family were financially secure, Pujol left school to work at menial labor, the long hours wearing him down and he quit. Being all velocity and no direction propelled him into a series of mad love affairs. In 1933 he filled his compulsory six months military service. In 1934 his father died, which devastated him. From then on, everything he tried failed. In 1936 the Spanish Civil War started and Pujol experienced the terribleness of war. During the war Hitler and the Nazis backed Franco, who became dictator of Spain and Spain harbored many Spanish Nazi sympathizers. Over the next few years Pujol hid several months to keep from being forced into the military, was captured, imprisoned, and then freed by a friend. The war had eaten up his youth and ideals; left him physically wasted; his fortune was gone and his country in ruins. Now instead of being a dreamer, his survivor’s wit was sharpened to a keen edge. It was as if his fantasies had been pruned so that he understood human nature under pressure. Pujol met and married a beautiful nurse, Araceli, who aided Pujol in helping the allies, she also being a dreamer. In September 1939, WWII began when Germany invaded Poland. Pujol hated Hitler’s viciousness and considered him inhuman. Everything he believed in lay with the Allies. He determined that he would help them against Hitler. By 1940 Hitler seemed unstoppable and he desperately wanted to be part of the fight. The lure of espionage spoke to Pujol because it would allow his imagination to run riot and fulfill his father’s ideals. He needed a passport to get out of Spain, into Portugal and then to England.In January 1941, he walked into the British embassy in Madrid and offered his services as a spy, although he knew nothing about espionage. Madrid was like an arm of Berlin, it was so filled with Nazi slogans, Nazi agents and pro-Nazis. He went to the British and offered his help and was turned down as a matter of political policy , not because of the merits of his offer. So Pujol decided the only way he could help the Allies was to become a double agent, starting with spying for the German spy service “Abwehr.” He thought that if he helped the British by being a spy for the Germans, then the British would accept him as their spy (a double agent).The German embassy in Madrid was a hive of Nazi intelligence with over five hundred people operating out of its sections of espionage, counter-espionage and sabotage. Abwehr directed another fifteen hundred operators out in the field all over Spain. It had its own wireless station and a new radio tower. Pujol approached Abwehr and offered his services in espionage.Fredrico met him as a German agent runner who recruited and trained spies. When Fredrico asked Pujol what he thought he could do for the Nazis, Pujol lit up, slid into the actor he was and loudly proclaimed his hatred of the Allies and his love for Hitler. Frederico asked him how he proposed to help them and Pujol pronounced loud and clear of all the ways he proposed to do this, which was the beginning of thousands of lies that Pujol told thereafter in his role. He simply became another person, the epitome of his fantasies, and as fast as he was asked how, why, when or where by the Nazis, he could answer so glibly that he convinced Fredrico. With little training, Pujol moved to Lisbon, sending to the Madrid Abwehr office messages as though he were actually in London. He read the British newspapers, listened to the radio, and used every means of little information he could glean to then turn it into what appeared to be vital information and send it to the Nazis Madrid office. During these years, he totally gained the confidence of that office and the Madrid office was sending his information on to Berlin and Hitler’s desk. There was so much authenticity in his reports, that he was believed. During this time he also went four more times to the British embassy, offering his services and was turned down. Certainly they didn’t trust him. In 1941 the British had no espionage service. They didn’t even know where to start except for one man who had a little experience in it from WWI. They began to recruit authors of spy stories, actors, people from all walks of life, attempting to put together some type of spy rings. In October 1941, the British code breakers picked up a message out of the air directed to the Germans from a man named Arabel reporting an English convoy in a bay in northern Wales. When the British immediately checked it out, there was no such convoy and for the next few days they continued to pick up messages from Arabel where he was following the convoy down the channel and yet the British knew he was lying. Then they made an all out attempt to determine who this Arabel was. One day they received a message from their British embassy in Madrid advising them of a Spaniard who kept coming there offering his services as a spy. The British sent a man to meet with Pujol and Pujol told him all about himself and how he was an active spy for the Abwehr, but his reports were all lies. He convinced the British and they flew him out of Portugal to England. In England he was paired with a man named Thomas Harris, who was an M15 agent and between Harris and Pujol they came up with the most fantastic ideas to lead the German military astray. They were so good that eventually even Hitler relied on Pujol’s reports. Like all spies, Pujol had to have a English cover name and he was named Garbo because he was as good an actor as she was an actress.Hitler knew that the Allies would invade France but where? The Germans had already been defeated in north Africa and he needed to know where they would land. Calais was much near to England with good beaches, but Normandy also would be a good spot. There were many more divisions of German military in France than Eisenhower would have to begin the invasion and then hold the territory against the German Panzer division, which was in the area. The balance of the book is committed to all of the actions, events, and scripts that Harris and Garbo dreamed up to fool Hitler, how often it had to be changed and the several times that military trials of those scripts failed. The fascinating story is extremely informative and educational especially for those who were aware of that invasion, never realizing that it probably would have failed if it had not been for the talents of one man, Juan Pujol. It was a page turner for this reviewer. When I was not actually reading it, the events were still running through my mind because I was a teenager at the time of D-Day and I knew many of the returning veterans who participated in it. This is an experienced author who has written other such stories, and he makes the words come to life for the reader. I loved it.

  • Aristae Henricus
    2019-05-09 22:11

    Reads like a fast-paced novel, but is totally, 100% historical! Love Stephan Talty! I totally am not a fan of World War 1 or 2 era history, preferring the medieval age, renaissance, reformation, the sailing age or the 1700s. This book made learning about this period in history fun and enjoyable. For those that think that if there was ever an catastrophe, that actors would have no place in this world, (like I did), read this book and become acquainted with one of the most brilliant minds that ever walked a stage: Juan Pujol, a.k.a Agent Garbo."All the world’s a stage,And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts," -Shakespeare - As You Like It

  • Pat Jorgenson Waterchilde
    2019-05-20 00:24

    An amazing true story of Juan Pujol, double agent who saved thousands of lives during WWII. It was his ability to "spin the story" transform pretend characters into his own spy network and trick the Nazis'into believing the invasion at Normandy was going to happen somewhere else. A Spaniard, a man who failed at several businesses, a father and husband, carefully worked with secret British intelligence agencies to keep the "fake news" going.Well written, well researched...incredible story.

  • Nicole Hughes
    2019-05-18 01:18

    I have become fascinated by the importance of spies during WWI and WWII. I am very intrigued by Agent Garbo and his importance during WWII, especially D-Day. This book was interesting, and I don’t regret reading it— the organization was just not the best. It builds up to D-Day and then the actual attention to D-Day seems rushed.

  • Arthur Berkell
    2019-05-08 01:21

    Pieces of this excellently written story appear in a number of WWII accountS. Here it is skillfully and engrossingly put together all in one place. pieces of this story appear in a number of WW-II spy books. Heye it is skillfully and engrossingly assembled from head to tail, all in one place.

  • Bev
    2019-04-28 20:02

    Amazing story of a Spaniard who saw the danger Hitler possessed and became obsessed with the idea that he could stop him. He had no training but built up a network of connections with Nazi's and spun a web of deceit which altered plans. Escaped to England, and soon was working with secret agents and was able to affect the course of the war.

  • Trevor Durham
    2019-05-02 21:07

    The start of my journey into the mind of the greatest man to ever live. I'm currently enriching his tale into my own work, I felt like Lin after he found Chernow. Bless you Talty for bringing Garbo/Alaric/Juan into my life.

  • Judy
    2019-05-19 21:22

    Actually didn't finish, kept trying, but kept getting stuck in the details. Great subject with plenty of action and intrigue, just more detail than I could get into. WWII buffs will probably love this.

  • Jacob Cutts
    2019-04-29 02:08

    The book is decent and the story is incredible, but it honestly just felt like a slight elaboration on his Wikipedia article?

  • Himanshu Bhatnagar
    2019-05-24 18:12

    It's a tough act to pull off. To strike a perfect balance, especially when writing a biography. What do you keep and what do you discard? How far do you go and where do you stop? These are difficult questions to answer, so when an author manages to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, he/she deserves all the credit.Agent Garbo is a tough character to write about. A man so unknown that few people, even among those who consider themselves WWII buffs, have ever heard of him. And yet, a man so important, so significant, so central to the D-Day plans that he is considered almost as important as Gens Eisenhower and Montgomery to the success of that most memorable event - the landing at Normandy.Pujol (Poo-Hol) came from a relatively obscure background with a fanciful idea - to fool the German intelligence at their own game. How this unknown man from war-torn Spain could claim to be able to carry out so audacious a plan was a valid question, more so if you read how ludicrous some of the schemes thought up by British intelligence agencies up to this point of time were. I will not go into the details, but Pujol was able to not only fool the Germans, he convinced the British to help him do so, and in the process became the biggest supplier of disinformation to the Abwehr (German intelligence). His fanciful dispatches had even the most hard-bitten Nazi intelligence officer believing that Pujol had recruited a veritable army of sub-agents across Britain and they lapped up whatever he fed them. His insistence that Normandy wasn't the main Allied assault kept the German army fatefully divided and allowed the Allied forces to convert their toe-fold into a foot-hold; the Germans meanwhile waited for an assault that never came, because it already had.This, in a nutshell, was the man Stephan Talty encompasses in his book. And this is where he excels. There is enough about Pujol's personal life for the reader to get a good idea about the man who became Agent Garbo. There is his rather aimless life before WWII and also a taste of his incognito existence after the war ended; Talty makes sure that his hero isn't painted pure white. But there is just enough to round out the picture, never so much as to distract from the magnum opus of his wartime exploits. And here Talty's brilliance shines through once again. It is easy to get lost in the character you've spent years researching. The desire to make him the sole focus of your narrative is both strong and natural. And this is exactly what Talty resists with consummate dexterity. We never lose sight of the fact that the war effort was a gargantuan task that involved millions upon millions of men and women and important though Pujol's role was, he was in the end, one cog of a vast, vast machine.What we have in our hands therefore, is not an attempt to turn history on its head, but a lovely detailing of one less known aspect of a seminal event in our global, communal history. This book is a delightful read, and I would unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in history, or the people who made it.

  • Kristin Strong
    2019-05-22 20:14

    This is exactly what the subtitle promises: It's the story of a man who, with the support of MI5, pretty much trolled Hitler, the Abwehr, and much of the German High Command for years, culminating in the masterful deception surrounding the D-Day invasion point. There's not much suspense here, but the precarious construction of Garbo's (entirely fake) network of agents feeding him info for passing to Germany, and the ever-present threat of exposure, give this real-life spy tale the interest and excitement of a fictional James Bond story. An easy read that brings to life a little-known aspect of a turning point in World War II, and in the history of the 20th century.

  • Regina Lindsey
    2019-05-25 22:02

    On June 6, 1944, armed forces crossed the English Channel for the first time since 1688, transporting 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles. Eight hundred planes parachuted men 13,000 men. It was a fragile mission, and at one time Eisenhower assumed there would be a 90% mortality rate. Instead an estimated 10,000 lost their lives. Much of the success is owed to Operation Fortitude – a covert operation to convince Hitler, personally, that the invasion of Normandy was decoy and the real target was Calais. Rather than sending reinforcements to Normandy, Hitler made the fateful decision to keep large numbers of troops at Calais for nearly a month and the tide in WWII began to turn in the Allies favor. One man was the key to the successful operation – Juan Pujol, aka Agent Garbo.Unlike many of the double agents under MI6, Pujol seemed to be a man made for the times. The one time failed chicken farmer and manager of a one star dump in Madrid was a conflicted man. He was an idealist who simply couldn’t bring himself to commit to the Spanish Civil War because of his pacifist nature. However, in regards to WWII there was no doubt where the Spaniard’s loyalty lay even though much of Spain supported Hitler. “Pujol had stayed on the sidelines in the Spanish Civil War, with its multiple factions and brutal extremes, but this was different: one side was evil and one was good. Everything he held dear – humanism, tolerance, freedom – lay with the Allies.” (pg. 39). Apart from pure ideology, his very nature seemed marked for a life of espionage. He had two opposing natures. One was that of the dutiful son trying to please his family. But, his vivid imagination left him with a restless spirit and wonder lust. After repeated failed attempts to secure an outright position with the British secret service, Pujol offered up his services to the Abwher in order to gather convincing evidence of his worth to the Allies. Once attached to MI6, he became indispensable. “Over his career, Pujol would exceed every other MI5 agent many times over, earning $1.4M (at today’s value) and single handedly bankrolling much of the double cross system with his earnings.” (pg. 99). In addition to recounting the extraordinary life of Pujol, Talty finally illustrated for me why German Intelligence appeared to be so inferior to British. Much of it had to with the contrasts of personalities within the two agencies. The British allowed an eccentric mix to serve while the homogenous nature of the German agents stifled the kind of creativity flowing across the channel. Further, Talty adeptly shows how British agents handled the Germans and were able to remain in good standing after providing so many false accounts of operations. It is a good read with some entertaining aspects.

  • Ben
    2019-05-09 17:59

    The story of Agent Garbo and the whole D-Day deception is too crazy to be true - but it is true! I love reading and learning about the secret agents and deception plots of the Second World War. The characters are incredible, a strange mix of prototypical playboy spies and down and out castoffs, killer femme fatales and con artists. The deceptions themselves are so intricate and crafty that it seems impossible to pull off - dozens of fake agents running around England giving almost accurate information to the German officers, though they are all just the creation of one double agent (Garbo) and his team of MI5 handlers.I read and really enjoyed Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben MacIntyre, another overview of the D-Day double agents and deception work. This book, however, provides far more in depth coverage of the main double agent in England, Juan Pujol, and his backstory leading up to the war. I felt it gave a lot more insight into the German side of the equation as well, as it follows only one set of handlers and you get the chance to understand their motives and (seemingly dumb and naive) decisions. As an example, you wonder why the Germans were so forgiving of their agents' mistakes and false information while being so trusting of any information passed to them, and Talty explains with good political theory that the German officers were willing to believe what they wanted to hear. It is, in many ways, as simple as that: the reports fulfilled what they believed and wanted to believe (and what Hitler wanted to hear) and so they thought it must be true.Juan Pujol as a character is great, though I found the stories of his work and those working around him strangely more interesting. Though Garbo is a once in a generation character for sure - a failed chicken farmer and self-made war refugee who creates his own personality to dupe the Germans into getting him to England just so he can fight them in an ideological anti-fascism crusade - it is the unfathomable network of fake characters with complete backstories, as well as the reactions he creates and manages to German information that can be used to gain information while pretending to give it. It's hard to explain, just read the book!I highly recommend this book for people interested in the Second World War, especially the espionage element and the creative stories often hidden in the shadows of the major battles. The story is amazing, the characters incredible, the outcome far from what you'd expect.

  • Emily
    2019-05-05 20:23

    Intriguing "untold" side of the D-Day invasion. Juan Pujol, a Spanish failed chicken farmer, used his incredible gift of imagination and deception to completely snowball German intelligence and save thousands of lives - both Axis and Allied. Years after the war was over, and about thirty years after his death was faked to protect him from Nazi retribution, he was discovered living a quiet, anonymous life in Venezuela. In multiple interviews and conversations with other, he claimed again and again that "his greatest satisfaction hadn't been about ideology or nationalism" nor was it the irony of being awarded the German Iron Cross (usually reserved from those on the front lines, but the High Command made an exception for its "star spy") as well as the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Rather, it came from "knowing that he'd saved thousands of lives, including those of the German soldiers who would have died had D-Day failed and the war dragged on for months or even years longer than it did." But then when he visited the beaches of Normandy in 1984 for the 40th anniversary remembrances, "he knelt on the sand, made the sign of the cross and bowed his head...inconsolable. When he finally rose from his knees...all Pujol could say was 'I didn't do enough.'"He almost single-handedly, though with a network of support from British intelligence, convinced the highest Nazi leaders (including Hitler) that the actual D-Day invasion at Normandy was a feint for another larger attack elsewhere. Consequently, German troops were left stationed in other locations instead of moving toward Normandy, allowing the Allied forces to face fewer enemies and, therefore, fewer casualties. As for his motivation to undertake a task so dangerous, Garbo (Pujol's British code name) stated "I'm not Jewish or Polish or French...but I felt the pain of the Jews and the Polish and the French."I did feel bad for his wife, Araceli, who sacrificed as much as her husband did, but was essentially a prisoner in London. She couldn't associate with others from her country for fear of exposing her husband's work, and the bombings of the city made life difficult for everyone. With few friends, no contact with family, constant fear of discovery and loss of her husband, I'm sure her stress levels rivaled or exceeded her husband's and the marriage eventually succumbed to the pressure.For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  • Ann
    2019-05-22 01:14

    A major factor in winning a war is not the number of tanks and airplanes that your armies possess, but the successful deception of your enemies. In this book, we hear about the life and fertile imagination of one of the most productive confabulists of the second world war. Juan Pujol was a Catalan whose experiences during the Spanish Civil War had forged in him a determination to help the Allies fight the Nazis. Unfortunately, every time he walked into a British consulate offering his help, he was turned down. So he approached the problem from the other side : he became a spy for the Nazis and sent to England. Except.. that he got no further than the espionage hotbed of Lissabon, from where he sent beautiful reports about the situation in England... that were wholly made up ! He finally managed to attract the attention of the British and became a linchpin of Operation XX (DoubleCross) as Agent Garbo. Brought over to England, he became a prolific spinner of tales. He recruited a network of imaginary agents all over the UK and used their so-called reports to feed the Nazis a delicate mixture of correct but unimportant information, and carefully selected misdirection. The Nazis swallowed everything hook, line and sinker. HIs credibility was cemented when he appeared to have foretold the invasion of North Africa a week ahead of time. Then, when the preparations for D-Day were under way, the stakes got even higher. If the Nazis could believe that the major thrust of the invasion would come near Calais, they would keep their best forces away from Normandy for a couple of days after the first landings there. A wholesale exercise in deception was set up, with fake camps being set up in the English countryside, inflatable "tanks" being shipped, and dummy ships being rigged up. Agent Garbo duly reported sightings of troop concentrations near harbors that seemed to point to an intent to invade via the Pas of Calais. And when D-Day did happen, his messages were instrumental in convincing the Nazis that this was a feint and that they needed to keep their panzers and seasoned troops near the Channel. All of this helped the Allies establish a bridgehead and changed the course of the second World War.The book is easy to read and flows well. It is not particularly detailed or exhaustively researched, and it can be enjoyed by readers who ware not experts in WWII.

  • Relstuart
    2019-05-23 20:11

    This is one of those true stories that are stranger than fiction. A failed chicken farmer decides he wants to be a spy. He hates the Nazis and so goes the British and offers his services. Which are rejected as he is a nobody without any connections, education, or position that would recommend him for the type of work he is seeking. So, he goes to the Germans and tells them some silly things about information he made up about the British and how he would love to spy for the Germans. He spins some stories convincingly enough they eventually agree to help him help them get information on what is going on in England. He ends up writing spy reports from England gathering information for the Germans. Except, he didn't actually go to England. He just sat down and made things up. He goes back to the British this time with info on what the Germans have taught him about how to send reports back to them and the British take him in as a double agent, bring him to England, and set him up with one of their men to help him write reports that have enough truth to convince the Germans he's the real deal but mislead them on what is actually going on. Over time the Germans come to think of Juan Pujol (code name, Garbo) as one of their best sources of information in England. As the different British spy agencies work together they concoct and carry out a plan to make the Germans think that the inevitable invasion in France will be done with a feint attack followed by the main thrust attack. In reality only one attack was coming, at Normandy. The Germans waited for the expected main attack at Calais that never came, which kept German armor and other troops away from Normandy in the first few days of the invasion when it was critical to get as many Allied assets in France as possible so they could not be overwhelmed and defeated. The impact of this Garbo's deception is difficult to underestimate. Garbo disappeared after the war and was thought to be dead (he circulated reports of his death and moved to South America). It was decades after the war when the British found him again and brought him to a D-Day anniversary and announced to the world in the news what his contribution had been.

  • Wei Lien Chin
    2019-04-26 18:01

    I don't love spy novels, but I love books about real spies. Juan Pujol Garcia, also known as Agent Garbo, is one of the greatest spies out there. He did not singlehandedly save D-Day and win WWII, but he was definitely one of the anchor points. As a character, he is manipulative and charming, all the qualities you would come to expect of a great spy. However, what's even greatest about non-fiction spy books are the various deceptions employed against the enemies. The Allies used just about everything in the playbook to trick the Axis, including everything from fake tanks, fake battleships and fake troops to fake reports, fake spies, fake maps — you get the idea. They pretty much faked everything to cover up their real agendas. Reading about the deception methods and how everybody played along is the other side of war stories we don't get to hear about all that often. What is preventing this book from a 5/5 rating is the fact that spy books kind of read the same for the most part. Even though the deceptions may differ from one spy to the next, if you have read about one spy, you have pretty much read all of them. I recently read another WWII spy book on Agent ZigZag, and the tale is fairly similar: how a nobody is recruited and turned into a master spy for the Allies, and how incompetent the Axis spy network is (surprisingly, to be honest). The fun, however, lies in how all these pieces fit together, and how they eventually contributed to Allies' victory. It's the same story told over and over again, but it is a good story nonetheless. I am honestly surprised that there isn't a modern cinematic adaptation of Agent Garbo, because everything reads like a movie script — only, these events actually happened. For example, to convince the Germans that the Allies were attacking from Norway, they found an actor who looked like an Allied general, then planted him in Norway. Then he was ordered to show up in public places — cinematic gold right there.

  • Scott
    2019-05-15 20:23

    Fascinating story...a quick and gripping read, for the most part (some parts drag a little). Recommended for fans of espionage, WWII, or 20th Century British and Spanish history. Pujol (Garbo) is a complex and interesting character, whose life is described with both candor and sensitivity.This is a biography/popular history rather than a scholarly text, and I think sometimes the author tries to emphasize storytelling at the expense of a complete factual account--the importance of some details may have been exaggerated, while other things were glossed over. Even so, it's tough to maintain its focus throughout, and, perhaps unavoidably, Pujol the man, Garbo the character, and the team of real and imaginary people surrounding the Garbo operation sometimes get a bit muddled together, so that it's hard to tell where one ends and another begins. On the other had, perhaps that's exactly the way it should be.

  • Megan
    2019-05-25 01:00

    Talty does an excellent job of bringing dramatic tension to this story. First, we get enough details of Juan Pujol's life and motivations to appreciate who he is as a person. An ardent pacifist who thoroughly believed in the evil of Hitler and his minions, Pujols felt that intelligence operations were the best way for him to fight Nazis without having to literally fight people. Then, we get to see his struggles to become a spy for the Allies - as a Spaniard, it wasn't the most natural thing in the world to become a member of MI6! We see how he his able to increase his cred with the Nazis, growing and reporting on an entirely fictitious network of informants. At last, we see how his efforts are able to tangibly and dramatically contribute to the success of the Normandy invasion. We also get information on how his life turned out and his identity finally revealed to the world. A trip Pujols makes to the D-Day site on its 40th anniversary is brief but quite touching. The greatest strength of this book is to make events exciting whose outcome is already known. I already know from the premise of the book itself that Pujols is able to join the British spy network, yet his efforts to get into the game had me hooked. Even though the title itself tells me that Pujols "Saved D-Day", every transmission, every objective, every goal gripped me - I knew he'd be successful, yet the writing wrapped me up almost as easily as if Fleming had written it himself. This excitement is impressive not only because the outcome is already known, but because most of the action isn't really action at all; it's desk work. We also get to know about other key British intelligence officers, and this book can also be appreciated as an examination of the importance of the spy game in the midst of war.

  • Rebecca
    2019-05-11 01:27

    I knew that D-Day was only a success because Hitler was focused on Calais; that's woven into most WWII history. But wasn't in the book is the reason why Germany was focused on Calais--the most I'd ever read was "faulty intelligence." Well, enter Agent Garbo, the double-agent that could tell the Germans to jump, and they'd ask "how high?" Or, in this case, he could tell them to turn their tanks around, and Herr Hitler himself would sign the order.Juan Pujol was a Spaniard who failed at everything--business, farming, school, the military. He had two assets: his hatred for fascists of any stripe, and his wild imagination. Determined to take down Hitler with the only tool at his disposal, he decided to create himself as a double agent. This is must be where "truth is stranger than fiction" comes from, because no one would believe this story on the Hollywood screen. Young man decides to defeat the entire Third Reich based on a spy network that doesn't even exist? Even Transformers was more plausible than that.But of course Pujol, code-named Garbo, was the real deal. Talty takes us on a harrowing ride through the creation and rise of what might be the most brilliant double agent that ever existed. This is a spy work with twists and turns that would make 007 sick to his stomach, and Garbo didn't have the M and the gadgets to back him. Talty is a genius; I will be adding his other works to my to-read list shortly, but this was a fabulous introduction. This literally must be read to be believed. If you think you've collected all the great stories of World War II, you have a surprise coming.