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Operation Heartbreak

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A perfectly told tale of defeat and glory—and a paean to gallantry in the face of the absurd—inspired by a real-life secret mission during World War II.

Orphaned in the first months of World War One, when his father is killed in action, Willie Maryington dreams only of joining the same cavalry regiment and going to the front. The Armistice dashes seventeen-year-old Willie’s plans, but not his dreams of glory, and he makes the regiment the center of his adult existence. Yet, as the years go by, Willie falls increasingly out of step, not only with civilian life, but with the modern military, where horse charges are a thing of the past, and where a gulf yawns between those who saw action and those who did not. When hostilities break out again between Germany and England, Willie has become a relic. No one could guess that he will be chosen for a mission whose outcome might well decide the course of the Second World War.

Inspired by a real-life triumph of British counterintelligence (codenamed “Operation Mincemeat”), and based on classified sources, Operation Heartbreak was suppressed by the British government until 1950. A work of “jewel-like brevity and intensity” ( New York Herald Tribune), it is a study in nostalgia and bewildered idealism to place beside the novels of Joseph Roth and Ford Madox Ford.
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