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After the fall of France in the mid-1940s, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler faced a British Empire that refused to negotiate for peace. Full-scale war loomed and Hitler ordered the Abwehr, Germany’s defense and intelligence organization, to carry out Operation Lena, a program to place information-gathering spies within Britain. Quickly, a network of secret agents spread within the United Kingdom and across the British Empire. A master of disguises, a professional safecracker, a scrubwoman, a diplomat’s daughter—they all reported news of the Allied defenses and strategies back to their German spymasters. One Yugoslav playboy codenamed “Tricycle” infiltrated the highest echelon of British society and is said to have been Ian Fleming’s model for James Bond.

The true irony, though, is that every last one of these German spies had been captured and “turned” by the British. As double agents, they sent a canny mix of truth and misinformation back to Hitler, all carefully controlled by the Allies. As one British report put it: “By means of the double agent system, we actually ran and controlled the German espionage system in this country.” In The Spies Who Never Were, World War II veteran cryptographer Hervie Haufler brings you the true story of these double agents and their deceptions. This richly woven, fascinating account lays out both the worldwide machinations and the personal clashes that went into “the greatest deception in the history of warfare.”

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