In the mid-1930s just as the United States was embarking on a policy of neutrality, Nazi Germany launched a program of espionage against the unwary nation. The Nazi Spy Ring in America tells the story of Hitler's attempts to interfere in American affairs by spreading anti-Semitic propaganda, stealing military technology, and mapping US defenses.
A historian at Edinburgh University, Mr Jeffreys-Jones draws the reader in with thrilling, but initially disparate, tales of German espionage ... This is an entertaining tale that doubles as an important work of scholarship. From its first days in power, Mr Jeffreys-Jones shows, the Nazi party strove to undermine American democracy. Along with recent work by other historians, his suggests that Nazi hostility to America—with its bill of rights, balanced constitution and thriving Jewish community—equalled or even exceeded its hatred of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Jeffreys-Jones, an expert on the history of intelligence and espionage, draws on newly declassified FBI documents and on the FBI’s file on Turrou. He pitches his book as a pacy spy thriller, but he lets trivial details from his documents impede the storytelling ... The narrative advances at the speed of an ocean liner. Despite the new archival documents, the author often relies on Turrou’s self-serving account of his investigation. The book’s coverage of the spy trial should have been a high point but is instead cursory and anticlimactic ... The book’s subtitle refers to “the case that stirred the nation,” the moment when Americans began to turn away from neutrality and against Germany. But not everyone was persuaded by the screaming headlines ... The Nazi Spy Ring in America shows that the threat was real, even as it fails to deliver an engaging narrative worthy of this fascinating episode.
Historian Jeffreys-Jones (We Know All About You) delivers a solid rundown of the unmasking of a German espionage network in the U.S. prior to WWII ... Alerted by MI5, American authorities launched an investigation headed by FBI agent Leon Turrou, who had previously helped to crack the Lindbergh kidnapping case ... Jeffreys-Jones, however, credits him with helping to awaken the American public to the Nazi threat and with galvanizing support for U.S. military and intelligence services. Though his prose rarely soars, Jeffreys-Jones packs the narrative with fine-grained details and memorable character sketches. Espionage buffs will want to take a look.