In 1942, Hitler’s Nazi regime trained eight operatives for a mission to infiltrate America and do devastating damage to its infrastructure. It was a plot that proved historically remarkable for two reasons: the surprising extent of its success and the astounding nature of its failure. Soon after two U-Boats packed with explosives arrived on America’s shores–one on Long Island, one in Florida—it became clear that the incompetence of the eight saboteurs was matched only by that of American authorities. In fact, had one of the saboteurs not tipped them off, the FBI might never have caught the plot’s perpetrators—though a dozen witnesses saw a submarine moored on Long Island.
As told by Michael Dobbs, the story of the botched mission and a subsequent trial by military tribunal, resulting in the swift execution of six saboteurs, offers great insight into the tenor of the country—and the state of American intelligence—during World War II and becomes what is perhaps a cautionary tale for our times.