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D-Day girls : the spies who armed the resistance, sabotaged the Nazis, and helped win World War II
2019
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Library Journal Review
In 1942, desperate to employ any means necessary to resist the relentless progress toward what seemed an inevitable Nazi victory, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executive (SOE) took the radical and controversial step of recruiting women as secret agents for the first time. Rose (For All the Tea in China) follows the story of a handful of these female saboteurs, trained in England and parachuted into occupied France to transmit intelligence, destroy power lines, and disrupt the German war machine at risk of imprisonment and death. Based on interviews, diaries, and declassified archives, Rose's history of the women of the SOE details the gritty heroism of these British agents who lived through the worst days of World War II and helped keep the French Resistance alive until D-Day at the cost of their own freedom, families, and lives. Readers who enjoyed Damien Lewis's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare will find this a fascinatingly different facet of the SOE; unlike those special-ops commandos, the agents here had to survive invisibly in the guise of civilians, and later vanish into cover identities once again. VERDICT A solid read highlighting women's heroism and resistance during World War II and beyond.--Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ. Lib, Atlanta
Publishers Weekly Review
In this gripping history, Rose (For All the Tea in China) skillfully details the lives of a handful of ordinary women living in dreary occupied France-who also happened to be highly trained agents for the London-based Special Operations Executive (SOE). Often parachuting under a full moon behind enemy lines, these women and their male colleagues blended in with the locals as they set up networks and trained resistance fighters for D-Day. They were chosen in part for their unflappable temperaments; the fearless Andrée Borrel, for example, reveled in her work as a saboteur, serenely riding away on her bicycle as her charges exploded. Unassuming Mary Herbert used a planned pregnancy as the ultimate cover-no one would suspect a young mother of spying. The yearlong delay in freeing France resulted German double agents infiltrating, with devastating results for the SOE operatives-as Allied generals bickered over landing dates, Odette Sansom suffered years of torture and tuberculosis in Ravensbruck while still protecting the network-but these largely unheralded volunteers depleted German tank divisions, boosted French morale, and quite possibly served as the inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Thoroughly researched and written as smoothly as a good thriller, this is a mesmerizing story of creativity, perseverance, and astonishing heroism. Agent: Larry Weissman, Larry Weissman Literary. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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