Book: You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger by Roger Hall

Good; wish it were better

Roger Hall
You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger
Naval Institute Press, 2004 (originally published in 1957)
ISBN: 1-59114-353-5
219 pages

Roger Hall is almost as urbane as E.B. White and almost as funny as James Thurber, and that's a combination that's going to result in an very good book. You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger begins in 1943 with the author a second lieutenant teaching basic training to army recruits at a base in Louisiana. Mr Hall doesn't much like that job and he manages to get ordered to transfer to the Office of Strategic Services, the US Army's espionage outfit and a forerunner of the CIA.

In the book, we follow Mr Hall through his training, his first job as an instructor, more training, shipping out for England, more training, and then some work that's actually a little bit spy-like. All the while, there's at least a smile per page and a laugh every few pages. For example, there's this conversation that he has near the end of the book with a German captain who had surrendered:

        "Tell me, did you ever hear of an outfit called the O.S.S?"
        "But certainly, the Office of Strategic Services, an American
    group. Very clever. We new all about it."
        "Really. What is it?"
        "It is the cover story for a real intelligence organization."

The only regret here is that Mr Hall doesn't ever get to do any serious espionage. At one point, he's sent to parachute behind enemy lines to help the French resistance. But it turns out that by the time everything is ready, the Germans have retreated sufficiently that he parachutes behind allied lines. The story Mr Hall tells is entertaining, but how much more entertaining it would have been if he had done some real spying.

Posted: Mon - September 20, 2004 at 08:52   Main   Category: