Beverly Hills Spy
The Double-Agent War Hero Who Helped Japan Attack Pearl Harbor
by Ronald Drabkin
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Pub Date 13 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 09 Apr 2024
"A beguiling tale of espionage and double-dealing in the years leading up to World War II. ... Strap in for a narrative that demands a suspension of disbelief—and richly rewards it." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review); Best Books of February Selection
The untold story of the World War I hero who became a fixture of high society in Golden Age Hollywood—all while acting as a double agent for the Japanese Empire as it prepared to attack Pearl Harbor
Frederick Rutland’s story is a rags-to-riches coup for the ages—a lower-class boy from England bootstraps his way up the ranks of the British military, becoming a World War I pilot, father of the modern aircraft carrier, cosmopolitan businessman, and Hollywood A-list insider. He oversaw this small empire from his mansion on the fabled Bird Streets of Beverly Hills. Snubbed for promotion in the Royal Air Force due to little more than jealousy and class politics, Rutland—to all appearances—continued to spin gold from straw, living an enviably lavish lifestyle that included butlers, wild parties, private clubs, and newsworthy living . . .
. . . and it was all funded by the Japanese Empire.
Beverly Hills Spy reveals the story of Rutland’s life of espionage on behalf of the Axis, selling secrets about fleet and aircraft design to the Japanese Imperial Navy that would be instrumental in its ability to attack Pearl Harbor, while collecting a salary ten times larger than the best-paid Japanese admirals. Based on recently declassified FBI files and until-now untranslated documents from Japanese intelligence, Ronald Drabkin brings the scope of this unforgettable tale into full focus for the first time. Rutland hides in plain sight, rubbing elbows with Amelia Earhart and hosting galas and fundraisers with superstars like Charlie Chaplin and Boris Karloff, while simultaneously passing information to Japan through spy networks across North and Central America. Countless opportunities to catch Rutland in the act are squandered by the FBI, British Intelligence, and US Naval Intelligence alike as he uses his cunning and charm to misdirect and cast shadows of doubt over his business dealings, allowing him to operate largely unfettered for years.
In the end, whether he fully intends to or not, Rutland sets in motion world events that are so monumental, their consequences are still being felt today.
Beverly Hills Spy is a masterpiece of research on spy craft, a shocking narrative about an unknown but pivotal figure in history, and brings new information to light that helps us understand how Pearl Harbor happened—and how it could have been prevented.