A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London
Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography
“Excellent…This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.” -- The New York Times Book Review
"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR
"A meticiulous history that reads like a thriller." - Ben Macintyre
A never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine.
In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her."
The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill's "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and--despite her prosthetic leg--helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.
Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.
Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall--an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
If you never knew that one of the Allies’ top spies during World War II was a woman—and a person with a disability, no less—you’re in for a mind-blowing listen. Virginia Hall dreamed of serving as a diplomat, but being a woman made it unlikely that she’d advance from her clerical position at the U.S. Foreign Service (and her prosthetic leg didn’t help much either). So she went to work for Britain’s Special Operations Executive, which soon saw her blowing up bridges and rescuing British prisoners as part of the French Resistance. The stories of Hall’s cunning, determination, and bravery will blow you away. When her cover was blown (and she barely escaped!), Britain refused to send her back into France—so she went to work for the Americans instead, leading a guerrilla campaign against the Nazis that paved the way for D-Day. Narrator Juliet Stevenson’s precise British accent is a perfect match for this incredible true story.
Interesting account of an incredible woman spy and how she manages to outwit everyone. It was a bit hard to follow with all the French and German names but otherwise a good read.
Not what I expected.
I was expecting more historic fiction but was pleasantly surprised! We’ll written account of a very interesting life! It pleasantly needs a second read to catch the details.
Oscar Wilde has nothing on Sonia Purnell
I read the book in our public library. Now I own the audiobook. It is not hard to see that this true story of of armed resistance is also a handbook of sorts. Perhaps even Ms Purnell was unaware of what she had cast. I will not speculate. “If the story is true, and the characters are virtuous,” as Papa is said to have written, “the book will great.”