Double Agent is the true story of Nazi espionage in pre-war America and the German-American who helped to bring it down. During a visit to his native German a young William Sebold was coerced into becoming a Nazi spy. He was trained and returned to the United States to carry out his mission. His first act was to contact the US authorities and alert them to what was happening. He then agreed to serve as a double agent and to help bring down the spy ring. The book centers around the colorful cast of characters. Sebold, an adventurer with a nervous disposition, is the unlikely hero of the story. Among the colorful cast of characters is a South African adventurer, a Jewish socialite who escaped the Nazis by becoming a seductress of important figures, and a host of others who either sympathized with the Nazis or had a strong dislike for the British. The investigation would lead to the largest arrest of foreign agents as of that date. The trial of these agents would coincide with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into the Second World War. These agents could have caused serious damage to the US war efforts, particularly in shipping. Instead they were in prison and unable to accomplish their goals.
Peter Duffy has written a well researched and enjoyable book. His prose style is very accessible to the average reader. He keeps his story unfolding at a good pace and does not slow the narrative down or get bogged in some minutia that will distract from the central theme. Even when he describes the Norden Bomb Sight, a vital piece of equipment stolen before Sebold came on the scene, Duffy does not stick with a technical breakdown, but makes it understandable. This is a fascinating story that, for some reason, has been lost to the general public. I am surprised that Hollywood has not taken up this story. After all you have the femme fatale, the strange adventurer, the hidden Nazis, and the nervous, but brave double agent. Perhaps someone will read this book and work up a screen treatment. Until then I highly recommend that you go down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of Double Agent. You won’t regret it.