In this World War II military history, Rommel's army is a day from Cairo, a week from Tel Aviv, and the SS is ready for action. Espionage brought the Nazis this far, but espionage can stop them—if Washington wakes up to the danger.
As World War II raged in North Africa, General Erwin Rommel was guided by an uncanny sense of his enemies' plans and weaknesses. In the summer of 1942, he led his Axis army swiftly and terrifyingly toward Alexandria, with the goal of overrunning the entire Middle East. Each step was informed by detailed updates on British positions. The Nazis, somehow, had a source for the Allies' greatest secrets.
Yet the Axis powers were not the only ones with intelligence. Brilliant Allied cryptographers worked relentlessly at Bletchley Park, breaking down the extraordinarily complex Nazi code Enigma. From decoded German messages, they discovered that the enemy had a wealth of inside information. On the brink of disaster, a fevered and high-stakes search for the source began.
War of Shadows is the cinematic story of the race for information in the North African theater of World War II, set against intrigues that spanned the Middle East. Years in the making, this book is a feat of historical research and storytelling, and a rethinking of the popular narrative of the war. It portrays the conflict not as an inevitable clash of heroes and villains but a spiraling series of failures, accidents, and desperate triumphs that decided the fate of the Middle East and quite possibly the outcome of the war.
Journalist Gorenberg (The Unmaking of Israel) explores the battle for North Africa and the Middle East during WWII in this richly detailed yet somewhat impenetrable history. Weaving Middle Eastern politics with the history of cryptography, profiles of Allied and Axis codebreakers, and technical descriptions of battlefield campaigns, Gorenberg at times bites off more than he can chew. The story culminates in Erwin Rommel's ill-fated drive into Egypt in the summer of 1942, despite waning supplies and a lack of military support. Gorenberg reveals that Rommel based his plans on cables sent by Bonner Fellers, military attach at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, that were intercepted and deciphered by Italian and German spies using U.S. military code books and cipher tables stolen from a consul's office in Rome. But the information, which was colored by Fellers's frustrations with British military leaders, drew Rommel into a disastrous defeat at the Second Battle of El Alamein. Gorenberg gathers a wealth of intriguing material, but occasionally loses the thread of the narrative amid the jumble of military acronyms and the large cast of characters. This deeply researched account is best-suited to WWII completists.