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Desperate Deception: British Convert Operations in the United States, 1939-1944 Paperback – Nov 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Brassey's Inc (November 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574882236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574882230
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,123,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Kirkus Reviews

A fascinating study of the efforts of British intelligence to push America out of its isolationist stance and into the Allied camp during the early days of WW II. Freelance writer Mahl has convincingly drawn on a variety of sources--including recently declassified FBI and government files, memoirs, personal papers, and little-known official reports--to weave together a portrait of extraordinary schemes and activities. He argues that such conventional sources as the official British history of the war are misleading and inadequate. Britain, lacking the resources to fight Nazi Germany alone, needed the immense production capacities and vast manpower of the US to save itself. But the British government was deeply concerned about American intentions: The nation seemed both unpredictable and unreliable in its support of Britain. To gain American allegiance, Britain launched a sizable propaganda campaign and a number of intelligence actions, many carried out or managed by William Stevenson (``Intrepid''), Britain's spy extraordinaire. Mahl asserts that British agents had willing accomplices in FDR's White House, filled with an anglophile elite that identified deeply with Britain. His research reveals that foreign money was poured into some congressional elections to defeat isolationist politicians, that British agents spent money freely to ease the passage of the Lend- Lease Act, that they planted pro-British articles in interventionist newspapers and magazines, and that some national opinion polls were rigged to reflect a deeper and stronger pro- British sentiment than existed. British agents set up Bill Donovan's Office of Stragetic Services and helped run it, and they established or influenced a number of organizations pushing for American intervention. Their efforts were ingenious and effective. They were also either dubious or downright illegal, but Mahl argues that, given the desperate situation in Europe, Britain had little choice. A carefully researched, engrossing addition to WW II history and the history of covert operations. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Thomas Mahl's Desperate Deception includes a lot of information about British-sponsored efforts to influence America away from isolation and toward helping Britain against Nazi Germany. However his understanding of the public opinion polls of that period is extremely flawed. He claims (and some reviewers repeat) that the Gallup, Cantril, and Roper polls were "rigged" by British intelligence to produce a false picture of American public opinion. This is simply untrue. These pollsters used a wide variety of question wordings and posed a variety of alternatives to assess public opinion, and they all came up with the conclusion that - at least after the fall of France in 1940 - the great majority of the public favored "all aid to Britain short of war," even if giving such aid risked actually getting into the war. They did not, however, favor immediately declaring war against Germany and sending troops to Europe. That didn't win majority support until Pearl Harbor. (Hadley Cantril's Gauging Public Opinion (1944) gives many details of the pollsters' testing the limits of American willingness to become involved as do his subsequent articles in Public Opinion Quarterly.) As to the "British agent" in the Gallup organization, Mahl simply has it wrong. David Ogilvy, later a famous advertising man, worked for Gallup in studies of what audiences wanted in Hollywood movies; he resigned and went to work for British intelligence on Latin America. He had nothing to do with Gallup's questions on aid to Britain. See my article in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Summer, 2003. Mahl claims that a poll sponsored by an anti-interventionist group produced very different findings from the Gallup and other published polls - it did not, rather finding very similar results. Mahl's information on the polls and the pollsters is very inaccurate, because he is trying to fit everything into his general thesis.
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By A Customer on May 6 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is the missing link showing how elites use their influence to bring us into wars, manipulate political conventions, conduct propaganda campaigns against the populace(now known as public diplomacy), and other dirty tricks.
For those students of power structure and are familiar with the work of the late Carrol Quigley, many of the people mentioned in his work play roles in this book.
Members of the Round Table network( a global network of discussion groups of people waging propaganda justifying the British Empire on moral grounds) include:
Walter Lippman - American Round Tabler, whose column in the Intl Herald Tribune was to guide American foreign policy in an anglophile direction.
Thomas Lamont - Director and Chrm of the Board at J.P. Morgan, allied with FDR and instrumental in getting lifelong Democrat Wendell Willkie the 1940 Republican Presidential nomination.
British members of the Round Table group include Ambassadors to the US - Lord Lothian(Phillip Kerr) and Lord Halifax. Some other members in MI6 in the US were also affiliated with this group.
The Rockefeller family also loaned much of the office space for the British intelligence operations during the war, so they definitely had some knowledge or approval of their operations. Nelson Rockefeller was also appointed Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.
Basically, there was a group of influential anglophile Americans, who wanted to get America into the war with Germany, so they provided assistance to British intelligence, who set up front organizations to agitate in a pro-British manner. They recruited anglophiles to stage demonstrations to fight Germany, write pro-British propaganda, and destroy the careers of isolationist Congressmen.
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Format: Paperback
The book is an excellent way to understand how money, sex and power are the keystone of achieving short term objectives in the halls of power.
British Intelligence begins by understanding British history and foreign policy. This can be seen from Caesar's calling them Britons meaning the "People With Painted Faces" as he attempted conquest. The Celts fought a guerrilla war against Caesar and he even knew when to leave such determined people to making their own destiny with Rome. Such determination continued when Queen Elizabeth had to change the minds of several traitors whom she persuades to be sons of England rather servants to Spain. They helped defeat the Spanish Armada with such 'blowback spying' resulting in the 'fire in sky' tactics used to burn the Armada into history.
The author briefly explains English's Divide and Conquer policies against great powers, how the British Empire loses over one fourth its wealth and the need to have America enter the war to save democracies. The book details many openly negative actions of British Intelligence towards American values, but the English never let details get in way of knowing what is important for England to survive. The book only reinforces that British Intelligence sometimes must be nasty to friends to help fight real enemies in the face of two devils to choose from in usefulness.
It is noteworthy that Russia the biggest land mass nation, China the most populous country, America the largest industrial power and Great Britain the greatest empire on earth were all on the verge of defeat in 1941. Only England's intelligence services seem to be doing anything about countering this threat to freedom from dark forces abroad.
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