Hoover's Secret War against Axis Spies
FBI Counterespionage during World War II
Raymond J. Batvinis
The world was at war, America precariously poised on the sidelines. But already a second secret war was well underway with the United States very much in the thick of it. While he fought on the home front to consolidate the FBI's intelligence gathering power, J. Edgar Hoover was conducting an all-out campaign to make his agency America's first foreign espionage service--a campaign that would lead to an uneasy alliance with British intelligence in a brilliantly successful operation to undermine Germany throughout the Second World War. While pieces of the story have been told before, only now, in this work by FBI historian and former agent Raymond Batvinis, does this crucial chapter in the history of World War II, and of the FBI, received its full due.
Taking up the tale begun in his acclaimed Origins of FBI Counterintelligence, Batvinis mines a wealth of heretofore untapped resources to expose Hoover's remarkable connivances and accomplishments in concert—and occasionally contention—with the Allies in outsmarting German intelligence. Hoover's Secret War opens up a world of spy rings, secret and double agents, surveillance, codes and ciphers, wire taps, microdots, mail drops, invisible ink, radio transmissions, and deception and disinformation as it tracks the warring nations spreading their intelligence tentacles throughout Europe and North and South America. As it documents the rocky evolution of the FBI's relationship with Britain's vaunted M15 and M16, the book brings to light the feud between Hoover and William Stephenson, director of the British Secret Intelligence Service's U. S. operation, BSC.
“A well-researched corrective to OSS-CIA-focussed literature.”
“Any reader interested in the history of the FBI and British Intelligence and their roles in the Second War War will learn much from Hoover’s Secret War against Axis Spies. Historians will admire Raymond Batvinis’s scholarly detective work in pulling together his complicated story.”
—Michigan War Studies ReviewSee all reviews...
“A splendid account of the FBI’s contribution to victory in World War II.”
“Hoover’s Secret War against Axis Spies is a monumental book, breaking new ground in the field of secret intelligence. . . . Chronicles the Bureau’s struggle to become America’s leading intelligence service from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima and beyond.”
—World War II
“Exposes Hoover’s counterintelligence missteps and his repeated refusals to cooperated with and learn from experienced Allied espionage experts. It also provides a long list of unsung FBI heroes who fought the Axis threat from Canada to the tip of Argentina.”
—America in WWII
“Offers a fascinating details about FBI espionage and counter-espionage operations during a deadly period in modern history.”
—The Weekly Standard
“Adds a new dimension of operation detail to the FBI’s role in WWII.”
“J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI had a busy Second World War. There were vicious battles against Britain’s MI-6, America’s OSS, the War Department and grasping double agents. Then there were the Germans and the Japanese. Raymond Batvinis recounts this history with the insight of someone who has himself been in the game. . . . an important contribution to the literature.”
—Mark E. Stout, Director of Global Security Studies, Johns Hopkins University and former Historian, International Spy Museum
“Hoover’s War is a well-researched investigation into a little known aspect of American intelligence in the Second World War. Every chapter breaks new ground. It will be a welcome addition to the book shelves of all intelligence historians.”
—David Alvarez, author of Secret Messages: Codebreaking and American Diplomacy, 1930-1945 and Spies in the Vatican: Espionage and Intrigue from Napoleon to the Holocaust
“A welcome addition to the literature on both the FBI and the World War II era, Batvinis’s book provides new information about how FBI counterintelligence and counterespionage operations against Nazi Germany during World War II transformed the FBI’s culture and capabilities.”
—Athan Theoharis, author of The FBI and American Democracy: A Brief Critical HistorySee fewer reviews...
Batvinis reveals how the agency gained access to ULTRA intelligence, thanks to the British decryption of the ENIGMA code, along with the strenuous efforts to keep the Germans in the dark about it. He uncovers eye-opening details of the FBI's participation in the famed "Double-Cross System, which effectively "turned" German agents against the Fatherland, among them a flamboyant, larger-than-life playboy, a world famous French flyer, and a lecherous Dutchman. Batvinis tells for the first time how the Bureau manipulated these agents, and how it transmitted deceptive information critical to the Normandy landings, the Allied invasion of the Marshall Islands, and the atomic bomb program, among other matters. Rich with secrets and surprises worthy of the finest spy fiction, this true story of espionage and counterintelligence gives us our first clear look at the secret second world war, and a significant moment in history—for the FBI, for America, and for the world.