Unsure what new book to read next? Sit back: We read the book reviews in case you missed them. Below are the collected reviews of two new biographies being discussed in leading journals and magazines. Today we look at "Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies" by Ben Macintyre and "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz.
"Double Cross" by Ben Macintyre
John le Carre mastered the genre. Ian Fleming made it cool. Alan Furst massaged some history into its narratives. With "Double Cross," Ben Macintyre has firmly cemented his position as the author who makes the spy thriller real. A little primer: The Double Cross system was America's anti-espionage effort to flip German spies and convert them into double agents. Those double agents would feed their Nazi higher-ups all kinds of disinformation, ultimately misleading them towards defeat on D-Day. Macintyre takes this truth and wrings out all its eclectic characters and high-stakes moments, reaping a riveting saga of espionage and counter-intelligence.
"As in his earlier best-sellers about WWII-era spycraft, 'Agent Zigzag' and 'Operation Mincemeat,' Macintyre writes with novelistic flair," writes Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly, and he "never loses sight of the main plot." John Wilwol of The San Francisco Chronicle agrees, calling Macintyre a "master storyteller." Wilwol continues: "Employing a wry wit and a keen eye for detail, he delivers an ultimately winning tale fraught with European intrigue and subtle wartime heroics." Part of Macintyre's success is his ability to be there to carry and convey the tale, but not disrupt it with too many opinions or asides. The Wall Street Journal makes note of his skillful touch: "He knows how to let the high drama unfold on its own," writes Jennifer Siegel, "Even though we know how D-Day turns out, it remains a thrilling tale."
"Dearie" by Bob Spitz
In the garden of popular American personalities, Julia Child has grown to become one of the biggest, brightest and freshest crops of them all. Mixing a healthy dose of education and entertainment, Child fearlessly led aspiring cooks -- as well as us amateurs -- into the kitchen in the '70s and '80s by disarming us with her sassy personality, inspiring us with her casual confidence, and easing us with that Cheshire grin. Not to mention making it OK for us closeted cilantro haters to come out and speak our minds. It's no wonder, then, that one of the preeminent biographers of our times -- Bob Spitz -- has decided to capture the colossal icon's life in pen strokes for her 100th anniversary.
Though it's been difficult to see the forest through the trees of new Julia Child books being published to honor her birth, Colman Andrews of The Wall Street Journal calls Spitz's work "by far the most substantial new book on Child." Andrews continues by saying "Bob Spitz does a good job of capturing Child's irrepressible spirit," and he uses "the kind of language, slangy and salty, that Child would have enjoyed and might have used herself." Kirkus' Review concludes the book is "an engrossing biography of a woman worthy of iconic status," and Publisher's Weekly thinks Spitz has cooked up a masterpiece of biographical proportions: "Spitz reminds us that Child had always possessed a tremendous amount of excess energy with no outlet for expressing it" and his "delightful biography succeeds in being as big as its subject."