Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Edgar Award--winner Blum (In the Enemy's House) delivers a digressive rundown of Operation Long Jump, the Nazi plot to assassinate Allied leaders Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference in November 1943. After sketching previous assassination attempts (including the downing of a British civilian airplane falsely believed to be carrying Winston Churchill), Blum unravels the Tehran plot as a cat-and-mouse game between Mike Reilly, the U.S. Secret Service agent in charge of protecting Roosevelt, and Nazi foreign intelligence officer Walter Schellenberg, who planned for a team of 50 commandos to sneak into the British embassy through underground water tunnels and launch a grenade attack on Churchill's birthday. Unbeknownst to Schellenberg, however, the Soviets had gotten wind of the mission from a double agent. Most of the commandos were killed or captured as they parachuted into Iran, but six remained at large, intending to make a last-ditch attack, until they were betrayed by coconspirators and blew themselves up as the Soviets and Reilly closed in. Blum pads the mission's details--taken from both Soviet and Western sources--with extensive background information on Nazi spy networks, Allied diplomatic negotiations, and WWII in Iran, slowing the pace considerably but providing plenty of intriguing diversions. Espionage fans will savor this wide-ranging, novelistic account. (June)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
The story of Hitler's 1943 effort to assassinate the three world leaders at their conference in Tehran. The plot was announced by the notoriously paranoid Stalin, who urged Franklin Roosevelt to move to the well-bugged Soviet Embassy. After a review of Nazi intelligence leaders and their well-documented, generally disastrous, covert operations, journalist Blum introduces his hero, Secret Service agent Mike Reilly, who was obsessively concerned about protecting FDR and accompanied him and worried intensely as the plot unfolded. The author concentrates on events in Iran, a neutral during World War II. In the early fall of 1941, two months after Germany attacked Russia, Britain and Russia invaded, ostensibly to fend off Nazi influence but in reality to ensure Britain's access to Iranian oil and protect the Trans-Iranian Railway, a major route of supplies to the Soviet army. According to Blum (and a 2003 Russian history loudly promoted by that country's intelligence service), Operation Long Jump, a Nazi operation to assassinate the three leaders, was already in the works when news that they would meet in Tehran pushed it into high gear. Most of the book concerns the operation in which several heavily armed Nazi teams parachuted into Iran with plans to meet up with agents, infiltrate the embassy through an unguarded water tunnel, overwhelm the guards, and murder the leaders. But Soviet spies gave plenty of advance warning, allowing Stalin's forces to deal with them. Few survived. The existence of Long Jump remains controversial among historians, except those in Russia. Blum acknowledges this, emphasizing that he "wanted to write a suspenseful, character-driven story of men, heroes and villains, caught up in a tense, desperate time who needed to find the courage and cunning to do their duty for their countries and to fulfill their own sense of honor." The result is a breathless drama in novelistic form with insight into the characters' conversations, thoughts, and emotions. Lowbrow history but an entertaining story of skulduggery in a WWII backwater. (8-page b/w photo insert) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.