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The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud Hardcover – Jan 1 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books; 1 edition (Jan. 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597970417
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597970419
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.3 x 3.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,040,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description



About the Author

. He lives in Studio City, California.

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Format: Kindle Edition
More mythmaking

For instance, Ian Fleming named many people as the inspiration for Bond. But in the reviews here we have the new myth it was only or largely Meinerthagen. This is how it starts or goes. People are not reliable in their memories or much else. Attempts to revise history at a much later date may be scholarship (if done by actual scholars), but lacking the fact of being there or even alive at the time, is almost insurmountable. Then you have in this case a personality with many enemies.

I was in a plane crash, and travelled a great distance to see the reading of the subsequent report. It bore no resemblance to the event as it was experienced by the survivors. Some of the report was clearly wrong, and some of it was probably right. Neither perspective is absolute. We got hugely knocked about and exited the plane in the dark under morphine. But the reconstructors only had the evidence that actually existed to base their conclusions on. On top of that there were several biases inevitably. It is far wiser to believe nothing and draw no conclusions, nor bear false witness when you weren't even there.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Man who Life wasn't Big Enough to Hold July 19 2007
By Grey Wolffe - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Richard Meinertzhagen was a military hero, explorer, spy, friend of Israel, diarist, world renown Ornithologist and prevaricator. Unlike most people, he reveled in the lies that he told and the reactions of those he told them to. He left an 82 volume library of his 'life', much of which was wishful thinking or down right false, but like Dr.Goebbels he believed that if you tell "The Big Lie" forceful enough and long enough, people will begin to believe.

Why would a man who was respected as a world class ornithologist, get himself barred from the British Museum for stealing? Was it for the notoriety? Having re-written his diaries (in some cases many times) and destroying all the previous versions, did he want to be caught after his death? Like publicity, being remembered, whether for good or bad, is still being remembered.

Garfield, who admits the man was one of his heroes as a child, spends a lot of time trying to find back-up information to prove RMs tales. But the more his digs, the more his finds that it like digging a hole in the dessert, it buries you. When RM writes that he did so-and-so, Garfield is able to find that not only wasn't he involved, but that RM might not have even been anywhere in the area (much less on the same continent) when the event occurred.

Ian Fleming had written that RM was the archetype for "James Bond". He could not have known how right he was in basing his fictional spy on a real-life falsified spy. The sad part is, had RM just written about his real accomplishments, his story would still be one of an outstanding personality; it just wasn't outstanding enough for him.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A history lesson and a thriller all rolled in to one. March 28 2007
By M. Silverglade - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Col. Richard Meinertzhagen's exploits are those of either the greatest and most daring man ever to wear a British Military Uniform, or that of the most whopping fraud to walk the earth. Excellent research and a great read.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
An unfair account Oct. 29 2007
By Seth J. Frantzman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is not so much a biography of Richard Meinertzhagen as it is an attempt to destroy his reputation. Meinertzhagen was a warrior, a famous collector of rare bird specimens, supporter of Zionism, African hunter and war hero from the First World War. Most of all he was an adventurer. He had a keen sense for history and felt sympathy for the Jews and deep hatred for Hitler.

But all this has been stolen from him because of a number of allegations of impropriety. There are the stuffed birds that he is alleged to have stolen and re-labeled. There is the fact that no one recalls him being in Haifa in 1948 (although who would have?). Most of all there is the controversy over his diary and his meetings with T.E Lawrence. Meinertzhagen was sure that people would 'find out' about Lawrence and his having made things up and it seems that Meinertzhagen may have fabricated a number of diary entries including meetings with Lawrence.

This book attacks Meinertzhagen even for the exploits that are widely known to have been his most brave and audacious. He once dropped fake plans behind Turkish lines in order to deceive them in the battles for Beersheba and Gaza in 1917. He is attacked here for having not come up with the original idea. But the proof for this is that other people claimed to have had the same idea. But why believe their claims and not Meinertzhagen's?

Most of the rumors and stories about Meinertzhagen cannot be proved and neither can most of the allegations. For those such as T.E Lawrence the legend has remained, why there is so much interest in dismantling the reputation of a minor player such as Meinertzhagen is not clear, if anything he deserves more mention in history books on the Middle East, not less. The best place to start is to read his diary, Middle East Diary, 1917-1956 and then Warrior: The Legend Of Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen.

Seth J. Frantzman
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Unbelievable Mess March 16 2007
By John Matlock - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Brian Garfield is a supurb writer. It doesn't matter if he is writing fiction (Death Wish, the book behind the Charles Bronson movie), military history (The Thousand-Mile War about the part of World War II in the Aleutians), or a non-fiction book like The Meinertzhagen Mystery. His writing style is captivating and even otherwise dull subjects come alive. Any book is highly recommended.

Col. Richard Meinertzhagen left a history of heroic deeds so dramatic that he was used as the model for Ian Fleming's 'James Bond.' Or at least it is so rumored. His diaries are full of stories so outrageous that you'd think they have to be made up.

It turns out that most of them now appear to have been made up indeed. The difficulty is to split out what is true from what is false. And then we need look at what historians have reported as fact based on what is now seen to be false. It's enough to make you wonder about all of history.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting Perspective Oct. 7 2011
By Colin D. Heaton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Having written several military history books and biographies, and also having interviewed Pieter Krueler before his death, I found the book interesting. Garfield asserts that many of Meinertzhagen's tales were frauds, and probably so. However, since I interviewed Pieter Krueler, who met him at Tanga (while serving under Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck as a South African volunteer), and gathered his percpetions in small detail, I have an interesting perspective.

As far as I know Krueler was the last surviving participant of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, and possibly the last surviving auxiliary serving with the Germans in East Africa. his description of his initial meeting with Meinertzhagen under the conditions well known to history, and the subsequent information supplied by Krueler (who knew Meinertzhagen until his death in 1967), Garfield's book intrigued me.

After twenty-five years of research on Krueler's information after his death in 1985, and after reading Meinertzhagen's memoirs, and now Garfield's book, I have to conclude that Garfield did a good job of research. In fact, a great job, as Krueler never told me of some of the stories Meinertzhagen wrote about, and he knew him very well.

All in all a great read, and I recommend it.