The Counterfeit Spy

Title:                      The Counterfeit Spy

Author:                 Sefton Delmer,

Delmer, Sefton (1971). The Counterfeit Spy. New York: Harper and Row

LCCN:    73174728

D810.S8 C3584 1973


Date Updated:  January 27, 2017

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

This was written to show what deception can do. Delmer drew a parallel between the situation of the Germans, starved for good information in 1944 before the Normandy invasion and thus vulnerable to deception, and more recent events. He saw Western intelligence services at the start of the 1970s as being in dire need of good intelligence on the Soviet Union and China and therefore equally good targets for deception. He must be regarded as one of the first to focus attention on deception and its practice in World War II. With the acknowledged help of such people as Colonel N. W. Wild, the head of the SHAEF deception unit, he gave us this story of deception revolving around a double agent code-named Garbo. Touched on are the XX Committee, the A Force, and deception successes using double agents. Montagu in Beyond Top Secret Ultra[2] calls this as good an account of the Garbo network as could be written by someone who had not been in double agent work. Due to confusion on some identities (that of Tricycle) and minor errors (Philby was not in MI5 and Cicero was not an Abwehr operation), it is best to read this book after Masterman’s The Double-Cross System[3] and Montagu’s work, cited below. Masterman’s book, which appeared at about the same time as this one, will sort out the double agents and their work on behalf of the Allies.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[4]

A revealing treatment of the use of deception and double agents by the British in WWII, but not in a class with Masterman’s Double-Cross System (cited below). Delmer concentrates on the Spaniard who created a bogus network which provided large amounts of deceptive intelligence to the Germans. Although this agent’s operations contributed significantly to the deception program for the Normandy invasion, his German handlers were sufficiently impressed that they arranged for Hitler to award him the Iron Cross. Contains some confusing and factual errors.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[5]

A well-constructed account of the Double-Cross System by a former British foreign office employee and journalist. The counterfeit spy was a Spaniard who built up several fictitious or “national” networks of German spies against England. The British awarded him the M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire) for his work as a double agent of the Double-Cross System.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, p. 161

[2] Montagu, Ewen (1977, 1978). Beyond Top Secret Ultra. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan

[3] Masterson, J. C. (2012). The Double-Cross System: The Incredible True Story of How Nazi Spies Were Turned into Double Agents. Guilford, DE: The Lyons Press

[4] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature: A Critical And Annotated Bibliography of Open-Source Literature (7th ed, rev.). Washington, D.C. : Defense Intelligence School, p. 19

[5] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., pp. 185-186


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2 Responses to The Counterfeit Spy

  1. Pingback: The Secret Wars, A Guide to Sources in English | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: Counterespionage, Chapter 15 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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