Double Agent: The First Hero of World War II and How the FBI Outwitted and Destroyed a Nazi Spy Ring


The never-before-told tale of the German-American who spearheaded a covert mission to infiltrate New York’s Nazi underground in the days leading up to World War II—the most successful counterespionage operation in US history.

From the time Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933, German spies were active in New York. In 1937, a German national living in Queens stole the blueprints for the country’s most precious secret, the Norden Bombsight, delivering them to the German military two years before World War II started in Europe and four years before the US joined the fight. When the FBI uncovered a ring of Nazi spies in the city, President Franklin Roosevelt formally declared J. Edgar Hoover as America’s spymaster with responsibility for overseeing all investigations. As war began in Europe in 1939, a naturalized German-American was recruited by the Nazis to set up a radio transmitter and collect messages from spies active in the city to send back to Nazi spymasters in Hamburg. This German-American, William G. Sebold, approached the FBI and became the first double agent in the Bureau’s history, the center of a sixteen-month investigation that led to the arrest of a colorful cast of thirty-three enemy agents, among them a South African adventurer with an exotic accent and a monocle and a Jewish femme fatale, Lilly Stein, who escaped Nazi Vienna by offering to seduce US military men into whispering secrets into her ear.

A riveting, meticulously researched, and fast-moving story, Double Agentdetails the largest and most important espionage bust in American history.

This is a fascinating story about a spy ring that started here in the U.S. by Germany in 1933. The main goal besides information was any plans that were being used for building any new equipment for the war in Europe. A German from Queens working in a plant that developed and made our most advanced invention, the Norbert Bomb-sight, was able to steal the blueprints. BY 1939 a naturalized German American by the name of William G. Sebold, went to the FBI after a trip he took to Homburg, Germany and told them he was approached by the Germans to be a spy on the U.S. Taking being an American very seriously he felt it was his duty to inform them of what happened. What happened was he became the first double agent we ever had and throughout the war was able to get information on people from the U.S. in Europe, and even a women in South Africa, just to name a few. In all he was able to bring 33 people to trial for espionage and they were all convicted. The story is amazing, and is still to date the largest arrest and conviction on record. The other part of the story that got me is that I had never heard of this man before. Being a WWII history buff because of my father fighting in Europe, I would have thought somewhere along in my reading I would have seen his name somewhere, but no. Not even a movie about this man. The book though is good, I don’t get into all of the writing part. Look it is history some of it is interesting and some is boring for some people, but for me I wish I knew about this man sooner. This is a good story and though you may know what happens the people in the book are real and so is the suspense and mystery. Overall a good book. I got this book from net galley.   I give this 4 stars.

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