October 10, 2014

Gotta love a good adventure story (especially when it's true)

Reading Operation Mincemeat has just convinced me that there are 1. Many more spy novels out there that I have yet to read (example: Ian Fleming) and 2. My obsession with World War II is completely justified because it was so convoluted, intriguing, and shrouded in secrecy (many of these secrets remain today). As the title suggests, this book focused on a singular operation which in itself was just a piece of a much bigger operation entitled Operation Husky (attached to another called Operation Barclay + others that were mere decoys). If nothing else, once you've finished reading this book you come away with an appreciation for the skills and ingenuity of those involved in fighting a war which for the majority of its duration seemed absolutely impossible to win. The taking of Sicily, however, proved to be a turning point in the war and Ewen Montagu and his team had a hand in the victory because they pulled off what many still believe to be the greatest feat of deception ever. If you've ever read The Man Who Never Was or seen the film version of it then you're aware of this story...except it's not the entire story because Montagu was censored by the British government (you'll see why when you read Operation Mincemeat). Sufficed to say, if you've ever fancied yourself a spy then you should read this to find out just exactly what that means. Hint: It's a lot more bureaucracy than James Bond has led you to believe.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann has been on my TRL for a while now. It's the story of a man's quest to figure out what really happened to Percy Fawcett and his expedition party. This question has haunted hundreds of people who have tried to discover the truth by following the clues left behind by the man into the very place that seems to have swallowed him alive. In 1925 Fawcett and his team (including his 21 year old son) set off on a quest to locate the lost city of El Dorado, aka Z. Now it's David Grann's turn to be enthralled by the mystery as he seeks to discover just what happened to Fawcett and his team and maybe find El Dorado himself...

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