Doppelgänger: An American Spy in World War Two France
Walter Hirsch’s carefully ordered world as an American research scholar in Paris explodes into fragments on June 15, 1940 when the German army enters Paris in triumph. In spite of his neutrality, the SS believes he is a spy. He is badly injured in a student protest that the Nazis put down violently.
He leaves France and returns to America. In Washington, Yale classmate Jack O’Donnell, now an American OSS agent, asks Walter to pose as a French citizen and go into deep cover as a “sleeper” living in France. Walter agrees. His fluent French and flawless German would seem to make him perfect for the job. But his role as a spy will test him beyond anything he could have imagined.
“You will need to become a different person,” he is told, “not just assuming and convincingly taking on different identities, but actually forgetting, eliminating all consciousness of who you have been in the past. The person you think of now as yourself must disappear from your awareness.”
“You will need to become an effortlessly consummate liar, so that the ‘truth’ about yourself that you share with everyone you meet is whatever you need it to be in the moment. You will find that the hardest thing will be to utterly relinquish trust. You will enter a world in which you can trust no one.”
What Walter learns is that he may not even be able to trust his own government.