Sunday, June 29, 2008
Review: Legerdemain: The President's Secret Plan, the Bomb, and What the French Never Knew by James J. Heaphey
James Heaphey was only 22 years old when, as a fresh Air Force undercover agent, he was sent to Morocco to assist with Operation Camelback. Morocco was still a French protectorate, but the seeds of revolution were sprouting. Heaphey's assignment was to establish contacts within Moroccan nationalist organizations to encourage them to be sympathetic to American interests and allow American bases, specifically secret nuclear bomb storage facilities, to remain in Morocco after the French were overthrown and Morocco was independant.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word "legerdemain" as 1. slight of hand; 2. a show of skill or deceitful cleverness. That second definition perfectly sums up the macinations of this book. Heaphey is a naive, wet-behind-the-ears young man as his story begins, and we experience the bewildering twists and turns of high stakes espionage. We feel his nerves as he meets dangerous, powerful men from Britian's M16, Israel's Mossad, the Moroccan Istiqlal and Zaouia Brotherhood, along with other nationals from Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece. We experience his emotions as he meets two beautiful, intelligent women, and hurt with him as his trust is betrayed.
Heaphey has written a fascinating book. This is the best kind of nonfiction. This book reads like a novel - sometimes I had to remind myself I was reading this guy's real life. There were times I got a little bit lost in the unfamiliar politics, but in general Heaphey does an excellent job of unraveling the mysteries that were Morocco in the early 1950s. It was interesting to read about the warnings that some national leaders were sounding about the emerging Muslim fundamentalist movement, especially in light of current world politics.
I was completely engrossed in this story from the first pages to the last. I would encourage history buffs to pick this book up - I think you will really enjoy it!
Source: Lisa Roe, online publicist