War of Shadows: Codebreakers, Spies, and the Secret Struggle to Drive the Nazis from the Middle East

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Jan. 2021. 480p. ISBN 9781610396271. $34. HIST
During the Second World War, Axis and Allied forces engaged in total warfare on many fronts. In this latest work, Gorenberg (The Unmaking of Israel) examines the intelligence war in the Middle East. The story begins in early 1942 and carries through 1943 when Allied forces finally drove the Axis from the North African theater. Gorenberg does well in adding snippets of the larger war in order to keep the Middle East situation in context. The ongoing conflict between Erwin Rommel’s German and Italian Afrika Korps and Claude Auchinleck’s, and later Bernard Montgomery’s, British 8th Army provides the immediate backdrop for the primary events. Gorenberg discusses the significance of Polish codebreakers that cracked Germany’s advanced Enigma system and the roles various British, German, American, Italian, Hungarian, and Egyptian agents played in code breaking and intelligence operations. He includes the treatment of Jews in the Middle East, mentioning how early reports of mass executions in Europe were met with disbelief even among the Jewish community. The book concludes with brief summaries of the postwar lives of the story’s major players.
VERDICT A solid analysis of how espionage impacted an important theater, this book should appeal to anyone interested in World War II history, particularly intelligence operations.
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