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Double Cross

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Double Cross

The True Story of the D-Day Spies
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF A SPY AMONG FRIENDS On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. A stunning...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF A SPY AMONG FRIENDS On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. A stunning...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF A SPY AMONG FRIENDS

    On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties. A stunning military accomplishment, it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, tricked the Nazis into believing that the Allied attacks would come in Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. It was the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, ensuring Allied victory at the most pivotal point in the war. This epic event has never before been told from the perspective of the key individuals in the Double Cross system, until now. Together they made up one of the oddest and most brilliant military units ever assembled.

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  • Chapter One

    Dusko and Johnny were friends. Their friendship was founded on a shared appreciation of money, cars, parties, and women, in no particular order and preferably all at the same time. Their relationship, based almost entirely on frivolity, would have a profound impact on world history.

    Dusan "Dusko" Popov and Johann "Johnny" Jebsen met in 1936 at the University of Freiburg in southern Germany. Popov, the son of a wealthy Serbian industrialist from Dubrovnik, was twenty-five. Jebsen, the heir to a large shipping company, was two years older. Both were spoiled, charming, and feckless. Popov drove a BMW; Jebsen, a supercharged Mercedes 540K convertible. This inseparable pair of international playboys roistered around Freiburg, behaving badly. Popov was a law student, while Jebsen was taking an economics degree, the better to manage the family firm. Neither did any studying at all. "We both had some intellectual pretensions," wrote Popov, but "[we were] addicted to sports cars and sporting girls and had enough money to keep them both running."

    Popov had a round, open face, with hair brushed back from a high forehead. Opinion was divided on his looks: "He smiles freely showing all his teeth and in repose his face is not unpleasant, though certainly not handsome," wrote one male contemporary. He had "a well-flattened, typically Slav nose, complexion sallow, broad shoulders, athletic carriage, but rather podgy, white and well-kept hands," which he waved in wild gesticulation. Women frequently found him irresistible, with his easy manners, "loose, sensual mouth," and green eyes behind heavy lids. He had what were then known as "bedroom eyes"; indeed, the bedroom was his main focus of interest. Popov was an unstoppable womanizer. Jebsen cut a rather different figure. He was slight and thin, with dark blond hair, high cheekbones, and a turned‑up nose. Where Popov was noisily gregarious, Jebsen was watchful. "His coldness, aloofness, could be forbidding, yet everyone was under his spell," Popov wrote. "He had much warmth too, and his intelligence was reflected in his face, in the alertness of his steel-blue eyes. He spoke abruptly, in short phrases, hardly ever used an adjective and was, above all, ironic." Jebsen walked with a limp and hinted that this was from an injury sustained in some wild escapade: in truth it was caused by the pain of varicose veins, to which he was a secret martyr. He loved to spin a story, to "deliberately stir up situations to see what would happen." But he also liked to broker deals. When Popov was challenged to a sword duel over a girl, it was Jebsen, as his second, who quietly arranged a peaceful solution, to Popov's relief, "not thinking my looks would be improved by a bright red cicatrix."

    Jebsen's parents, both dead by the time he arrived in Freiburg, had been born in Denmark but adopted German citizenship when the shipping firm Jebsen & Jebsen moved to Hamburg. Jebsen was born in that city in 1917 but liked to joke that he was really Danish, his German citizenship being a "flag of convenience" for business purposes: "Some of my love of my country has to do with so much of it actually belonging to me." A rich, rootless orphan, Jebsen had visited Britain as a teenager and returned a committed Anglophile: he affected English manners, spoke English in preference to German, and dressed, he thought, "like a young Anthony Eden, conservatively elegant." Popov remarked: "He would no more go without an umbrella than without his trousers."

    Preoccupied as they were with having fun, the two student friends could not entirely ignore the menacing political changes taking place around them in the Germany of the 1930s. They made a point of...

About the Author-
  • Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, The Napoleon of Crime, and Forgotten Fatherland, among other books.

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Double Cross
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The True Story of the D-Day Spies
Ben Macintyre
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