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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.
Summary
NATIONAL BESTSELLER * The dramatic, untold true story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain's elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory in World War II <br> <br> "Gripping. Spies, romance, Gestapo thugs, blown-up trains, courage, and treachery (lots of treachery)--and all of it true."--Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake <br> <br> In 1942, the Allies were losing, Germany seemed unstoppable, and every able man in England was on the front lines. To "set Europe ablaze," in the words of Winston Churchill, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) was forced to do something unprecedented: recruit women as spies. Thirty-nine answered the call, leaving their lives and families to become saboteurs in France.<br> <br> In D-Day Girls , Sarah Rose draws on recently de­classified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the thrilling story of three of these remarkable women. There's Andrée Borrel, a scrappy and streetwise Parisian who blew up power lines with the Gestapo hot on her heels; Odette Sansom, an unhappily married suburban mother who saw the SOE as her ticket out of domestic life and into a meaningful adventure; and Lise de Baissac, a fiercely independent member of French colonial high society and the SOE's unflap­pable "queen." Together, they destroyed train lines, ambushed Nazis, plotted prison breaks, and gathered crucial intelligence--laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war.<br> <br> Rigorously researched and written with razor-sharp wit, D-Day Girls is an inspiring story for our own moment of resistance: a reminder of what courage--and the energy of politically animated women--can accomplish when the stakes seem incalculably high.<br> <br> Praise for D-Day Girls <br> <br> "Rigorously researched . . . [a] thriller in the form of a non-fiction book." -- Refinery29 <br> <br> "Equal parts espionage-romance thriller and historical narrative, D-Day Girls traces the lives and secret activities of the 39 women who answered the call to infiltrate France. . . . While chronicling the James Bond-worthy missions and love affairs of these women, Rose vividly captures the broken landscape of war." -- The Washington Post <br> <br> "Gripping history . . . thoroughly researched and written as smoothly as a good thriller, this is a mesmerizing story of creativity, perseverance, and astonishing heroism." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Table of Contents
Character Chartp. x
Part I
Chapter 1God Help Usp. 3
Chapter 2Ungentlemanly Warfarep. 12
Chapter 3A First-Class Agentp. 23
Chapter 4The Queen of the Organizationp. 37
Chapter 5Merde alors!p. 49
Chapter 6To the Very Last Manp. 63
Part II
Chapter 7A Thousand Dangersp. 69
Chapter 8The Dark Yearsp. 76
Chapter 9Alone in the Worldp. 90
Chapter 10Robert est arriveép. 105
Chapter 11The Paris of the Saharap. 120
Chapter 12Our Possibilitiesp. 126
Chapter 13The Demolition Must Never Failp. 143
Chapter 14An Obstinate Womanp. 150
Chapter 15An Endless Calvaryp. 163
Chapter 16The Swapp. 175
Chapter 17The Dog Sneezed on the Curtainsp. 191
Chapter 18Huntedp. 201
Chapter 19When the Hour of Action Strikesp. 209
Part III
Chapter 20Kissesp. 227
Chapter 21A Patriotic Professionp. 231
Chapter 22A Little Braverp. 240
Chapter 23The Sighing Beginsp. 244
Chapter 24Death on One Side, Life on the Otherp. 252
Chapter 25Your Mind Goes On Thinkingp. 267
Epilogue: A Useful Lifep. 275
Author's Notep. 287
Acknowledgmentsp. 289
Notesp. 291
Bibliographyp. 351
Indexp. 373
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