Beverly Hills Spy
Beverly Hills Spy
by Ronald Drabkin
In the spirit of Ben Macintyre’s greatest spy nonfiction, the truly unbelievable and untold story of Frederick Rutland—a debonair British WWI hero, flying ace, fixture of Los Angeles society, and friend of Golden Age Hollywood stars—who flipped to become a spy for Japan in the lead-up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Frederick Rutland was an accomplished aviator, British WWI war hero, and real-life James Bond. He was the first pilot to take off and land a plane on a ship, a decorated warrior for his feats of bravery and rescue, was trusted by the admirals of the Royal Navy, had a succession of aeronautical inventions, and designed the first modern aircraft carrier. He was perhaps the most famous early twentieth-century naval aviator.
Despite all of this, and due mostly to class politics, Rutland was not promoted in the new Royal Air Force in the wake of WWI. This ignominy led the disgruntled Rutland to become a spy for the Japanese government. Plied with riches and given a salary ten times the highest-paid admiral, shuttled between Los Angeles and Tokyo where he lived in large mansions in both Beverly Hills and Yokohama, and insinuating himself into both LA high society and Japan’s high command, Rutland would go on to contribute to the Japanese navy with both strategic and technical intelligence. This included US troop and fleet movements, military preparedness, warplane production, and, ultimately, information and aircraft technology that would allow Japan to attack Pearl Harbor. All this while living a double life, frequenting private California clubs and hosting lavish affairs for Hollywood stars and military dignitaries in his mansion on the Los Angeles Bird Streets.
Supported by recently declassified FBI files and by incorporating unique and rare research through MI5 and Japanese Naval archives that few English speakers have access to, author Ronald Drabkin pieces together to completion, for the first time, this stranger-than-fiction story of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic characters of WWI.