Snow: The Double Life of a World War II Spy by Nigel West and Madoc Roberts is a non-fiction about a double agent for England and Germany. This extraordinary book claims that England’s first double agent was a Nazi spy.
Arthur Owens, a battery salesman, has offered his services to the Germans (along with his patent) during the early days of World War II. However, when MI5 finds about it they make him become a double agent. Known by his code name Snow, Owens becomes a remarkable spy and the first great double-cross agents who played a major role (somewhat unbeknownst to him) in the war’s victory.
Snow: The Double Life of a World War II Spy by Nigel West and Madoc Roberts is a dense book, filled with secrets, double crossing and the fog of espionage. The authors did a tremendous research job to shed light on this world of shadows.
What remains a mystery though is the protagonist of the story. Arthur Owens, a Welsh battery salesman who has no interest for his inventions decides to offer them to the Germans. When the British Intelligence (MI5) discovers this, Owens becomes a double agent. Owens is a character no one could make up, a man who changes his beliefs and his allegiance whenever convenient. Espionage fans, as well as history fans, will be delighted with Owens’ shenanigans even though I’m not sure I’d want to hang around with him.
This book, with its fascinating historical research, has a tremendous amount of information about England’s clandestine operations during World War II. The conflicted and complex characters whose true motives may never be known are part of the mystery of the book, the war and frankly the world.
In the grand scheme of things Arthur Owens was a nobody, a small cog in a great machine. But it’s those small cogs that help us win the war and tip the scales of history.
Books in a similar vein:
The Mossad: Great Operations by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal