Book Review: Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre

“…the key to an effective deceit is not merely to conceal what you are doing but to persuade the other side that what you are doing is the reverse of what you are actually doing.”

Ben Macintyre, Operation Mincemeat

Title: Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
Author: Ben Macintyre
Genres: Non-fiction, History, World War II, Military
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
Published: May 4th, 2010

My Rating: ★★★★★
Read: 11/23/2022 – 11/25/2022


I’ve seen videos on YouTube that talk about the story of Operation Mincemeat but if it was to any extent, I’d forgotten the details. It was the Netflix movie that fully captured my attention. When I happened upon this book in a used bookstore shortly after, I knew I needed to pick it up.

Sometimes the craziest ideas are the ones that work. Such was the case with Operation Mincemeat which involved planting a deceased ‘soldier’ carrying fake documents in enemy waters. Finding a corpse that met the criteria was a challenge of its own, never mind having to pull off such an incredible feat. In the day of modern technology in medicine, it’s easy to think that this all would be impossible. Even in the early 1940s this deception was a huge risk, but miraculously, it worked.

The book discusses many sides of the operation such as the inventors of the idea, the coroner tasked with finding an unclaimed body, the secretaries involved, the spies, and ‘William Martin’ himself. There are sections that drag on and occasionally feel irrelevant, but as a whole, the book is well-researched and fascinating. 

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The book was well-researched and informative.
  • Included backstories of the key players. I was partial to Ewen Montagu and Jean Leslie, but I admit I’m biased because they were played by Colin Firth and Kelly Macdonald in the movie.
  • The teamwork that went into this scheme.

What I didn’t like:

  • Some areas were needlessly long-winded.


It’s not surprising how much I enjoyed this book given I’m interested in all things World War II. Having a movie to compare it to was an added bonus. I don’t think I’ll be doing a thorough side-by-side comparison given the movie is a more fictionalized take. I recommend it, though!

Where to buy the book:

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