October 4, 2014

It always comes back to death and WWII with me

I practically sped through The Removers by Andrew Meredith. As I had suspected (and you probably did too based on the synopsis), this is a memoir fraught with melancholy. After his world was turned on its head at the age of 14, Andrew was adrift without purpose...that is until he found that he was quite good at the business of death. (I made that sound like he was an expert assassin but in reality he was ensconced in the world of corpse removal and cremation.)  For twenty years, this was his livelihood and it seemed that even when he moved clear across the country he couldn't escape it. Was this his destiny? Was the ability to remove himself emotionally from all that went on around him what made him the perfect fit for dealing day in and day out with mortality? Will he rise like the phoenix out of the ashes of cadavers to find himself formed into something utterly unrecognizable from his former self?  What exactly is his former self? To find out the answers to these questions and to learn more about what some might think to be a morbid profession, take a crack at this book.

Because apparently I'm obsessed with WWII and death, I've decided to read Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre. As I mentioned in a previous post regarding Alan Turing, Britain was a major player in the intelligence game during the war. This particular book focuses on a strategic plan to fool the Nazis into thinking that the Allies would be entering Italy through Greece when in fact they would be coming in through Sicily. The problem was that it was known to all parties that Sicily was the most logical choice for an entry point so the ruse had to be very, very good. It was a multifaceted plan but one of the key elements was Operation Mincemeat. The plan was cooked up by two intelligence offers who had very little in common: Ewan Montagu & Charles Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley if you're wondering). The plan was to drop a dead body disguised as an officer with falsified documents that would hopefully be turned over to the Germans. Does this sound like a James Bond movie? Well, that's because it was originally thought up by Ian Fleming himself. Yeah, now you're getting why I had to read this book aren't you?

Author's Note: I've read another book by Ben Macintyre and if you're interested in reading about that one you can go here.

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