Mahl, Thomas E. 1943-
Mahl, Thomas E. 1943-
PERSONAL: Born 1943, in OH.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Brassey's, Inc., 22841 Quicksilver Dr., Dulles, VA 20166.
CAREER: Writer, professor, and lecturer.
Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44, Brassey's (Washington, DC), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Thomas E. Mahl draws on memoirs and declassified government documents in his book Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44. The book explores the ways in which Britain drew the United States into supporting the European fight against the Nazis. American manpower and production capabilities were seen as key to winning the war, but many Americans opposed involvement, including prominent citizens such as aviation hero Charles Lindbergh. Attacked as anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi, Lindbergh was really an isolationist whose views were similar to those held by the majority of American citizens. British forces needed to alter this viewpoint, and the ways in which they did so constitute "the largest, most intricate, and finally most successful" conspiracy of the twentieth century, according to Gore Vidal in the Times Literary Supplement.
Movies favorable to the British cause were made, pro-British messages were read by influential newsman Walter Winchell, and propaganda was spread by a variety of other means, much of it engineered by William Stevenson, a British spy known as "Intrepid." Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration aided the campaign, as well. Mahl contends that congressional elections were rigged with the help of foreign money, ensuring the defeat of isolationist candidates, and that polls were tampered with in order to make it appear there was greater support for the war in Europe than there really was. Mahl's work is "carefully researched" and is an "engrossing addition to World War II history and the history of covert operations," stated a writer for Kirkus Reviews. Justus D. Doenecke, reviewing Desperate Deception in the Independent Review, called it "our fullest account of hidden British operations," though he also found the book marred by some overstatement. Eliot A. Cohen, rating the book in Foreign Affairs, recommended it as "a fascinating account" of covert British activity in the United States.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Foreign Affairs, July-August, 1998, Eliot A. Cohen, review of Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44, p. 126.
Independent Review, summer, 1999, Justus D. Doenecke, review of Desperate Deception, p. 133.
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, June 1, 2003, Allen H. Barton, review of Desperate Deception, p. 212.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1997, review of Desperate Deception, p. 1691.
Times Literary Supplement, October 30, 1998, Gore Vidal, review of Desperate Deception, p. 3.