DOUBLE CROSSED: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War
Primary author: Matthew Sutton
Primary college/unit: Arts and Sciences
In DOUBLE CROSSED: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War (Basic Books 2019), historian Matthew Avery Sutton draws upon never-before-seen archival materials to show how missionary activists proved to be true believers in Franklin Roosevelt’s crusade for global freedom of religion. Sutton focuses on four missionaries, William Eddy, a warrior for Protestantism who was fluent in Arabic; Stewart Herman, a young Lutheran minister rounded up by the Nazis while pastoring in Berlin; Stephen B. L. Penrose, Jr., who left his directorship over missionary schools in the Middle East to help build the American intelligence apparatus; and John Birch, a fundamentalist missionary in China. Working for eternal rewards rather than temporal spoils, they proved willing to sacrifice and even to die for their country during the conflict, becoming some of the US’s most loyal secret soldiers.
Acutely aware of how their actions conflicted with their spiritual calling, these spies nevertheless ran covert operations in the centers of global religious power, including Mecca, the Vatican, and Palestine. In the end, they played an outsized role in leading the US to victory in WWII. After the war, those who survived helped launch the CIA, so that their nation, and American Christianity, could maintain a strong presence throughout the rest of the world.
Surprising and absorbing at every turn, DOUBLE CROSSED is an untold story of World War II spycraft and a profound account of the compromises and doubts that war forces on those who wage it.