July 27, 2020
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The Nazi Spy Ring in America

Hitler's Agents, the FBI, and the Case That Stirred the Nation

In the mid-1930s just as the United States was embarking on a policy of neutrality, Nazi Germany launched a program of espionage against the unwary nation. The Nazi Spy Ring in America tells the story of Hitler's attempts to interfere in American affairs by spreading anti-Semitic propaganda, stealing military technology, and mapping US defenses.

This fast-paced history provides essential insight into the role of espionage in shaping American perceptions of Germany in the years leading up to US entry into World War II. Fascinating and thoroughly researched, The Nazi Spy Ring in America sheds light on a now-forgotten but significant episode in the history of international relations and the development of the FBI.

Using recently declassified documents, prize-winning historian Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones narrates this little-known chapter in US history. He shows how Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Abwehr, was able to steal top secret US technology such as a prototype codebreaking machine and data about the latest fighter planes.

At the center of the story is Leon Turrou, the FBI agent who helped bring down the Nazi spy ring in a case that quickly transformed into a national sensation. The arrest and prosecution of four members of the ring was a high-profile case with all the trappings of fiction: fast cars, louche liaisons, a murder plot, a Manhattan socialite, and a ringleader codenamed Agent Sex. Part of the story of breaking the Nazi spy ring is also the rise and fall of Turrou, whose talent was matched only by his penchant for publicity, which eventually caused him to run afoul of J. Edgar Hoover's strict codes of conduct.

About the Author

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones is emeritus professor of history at the University of Edinburgh. He has authored or edited fifteen books, including The FBI: A History, In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence, and The CIA and American Democracy.


"The 1938 Nazi spy affair was an event of world-historical significance. Here, an eminent intelligence historian, writing with tremendous verve and wit, tells the whole story for the first time, revealing a complex web of intrigue, sex, and betrayal." — Hugh Wilford, author of The Mighty Wurlitzer and America's Great Game

"Renowned historian of the FBI and American intelligence Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones tackles the 1938 Abwehr spy ring, writing an engrossing tale of international intrigue and investigation. He both sheds new light on an underappreciated subject, and forces us to reinterpret its significance both to the FBI's history and shifting American opinion towards the war." — Douglas M. Charles, professor of history, the Pennsylvania State University, and author of J. Edgar Hoover and the Anti-interventionists: FBI Political Surveillance and the Rise of the Domestic Security State, 1939-45
Georgetown University Press

9781647120047 : the-nazi-spy-ring-in-america-jeffreys-jones
July 27, 2020
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