Churchill’s Secret Agent


After France’s surrender to Germany in 1940, Max Ciampoli—only seventeen and already a lieutenant in the French army’s elite Alpine infantry on skis—refuses to be personally defeated. He feels betrayed by his commander and his government because they surrendered before his shock-troopers, who had trained so hard, fired a single shot.

Max wants revenge and makes a decision not to give up until France is free from the Nazi invaders. He knows that he must get out of the country—to North Africa or, better yet, England—as quickly as possible to be useful to the cause. If he stays, he’ll be sent to a Nazi munitions factory, or worse.

Who can advise him? He hates his father, who is a Fascist anyway, and he isn’t allowed to talk to his mother. Some of his former teachers at the Jesuit school are pro-Nazi, so he doesn’t dare ask them. He decides to visit his godfather in the south of France, who not only takes Max’s resolve seriously but also telephones his former neighbor, Winston Churchill, now prime minister of England.

Churchill tells the godfather to send Max to England, where he attends a Special Forces training school and demonstrates not only his leadership capabilities but also an exceptional gift for problem-solving. After rigorous training, Max parachutes repeatedly behind enemy lines in German-occupied Europe and becomes so successful at devising clever solutions to the problems he confronts that Churchill nicknames him l’Ingénieux – the Ingenious One.

Soon after the south of France is liberated, Max returns to re-form his company of ski shock-troopers and leads them on a daring mission to uproot the German soldiers who have long held a French fortress on the French-Italian border. The inventive plan is successful, but Max is badly injured and spends well over a year in an officers’ hospital in the south of France while the Allies succeed in expelling the Nazis from his beloved homeland and, ultimately, the rest of Europe.

Max’s never-before-told story provides a unique perspective on World War II’s European theater as seen through the eyes of a bold warrior who enjoys privileged relationships with not only Winston Churchill and General George Patton but also with celebrated entertainers such as Josephine Baker and Maurice Chevalier. The impact of his actions on the outcome of the war is even more thought-provoking.

Though Max’s story highlights acts of bravery by many individuals and pays heartfelt respect to the enduring heroism of the French Resistance, the German Resistance, the Gypsies and the British and American military, it also introduces to the world a very human and fiercely determined young patriot whose own contributions during World War II forever changed the course of history.