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The Women Who Lived For Danger [Kindle Edition]

Marcus Binney
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In World War II, 37 women were dropped in occupied France to work as Special Operations Executive agents and 'set Europe ablaze'. 13 never returned. They were executed in Hitler's concentration camps.

This is the fascinating story of eight of those female agents, all striking beauties (despite the need to be inconspicuous), all from civilian life, who were warned of the likelihood of arrest, torture and a brutal death before they volunteered. None demurred. These young women were given months of arduous fitness, gun, explosives, endurance and code training before parachuting into occupied territory.

But Women Who Lived for Danger also contains eight very personal tales. Why did these women volunteer? Where did they come from? Marcus Binney tells of a life of Resistance work and uncover operations, clandestine activities and even armed combat, and a constant fear of discovery. But above this book tells of extreme bravery and devotion to duty.

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Product Description


A profile of society's fear of forceful women (Image, Dublin)

He writes with real sympathy of the work of SOE's women agents ... each one brief, evocative and easy to read. All these stories exhibit quiet heroism and a readiness to take on ghastly risks; many show the catastrophic suddenness with which agents plunge into danger (MRD Foot, The Times)

An annal of bright courage (John Crossland, The Sunday Times)

It is a book to dip in and out of and relish. More than that, it captures a manic truth about terror. (Peter Preston, Observer)

Mr Binney covers their activities on the ground with authority and conviction; and describes with a sure touch the complex atmosphere of jealousies, political jockeying and incipient treachery ... the book is a tribute to them all and a worthy record. (Charles Vyvyan, Country Life)

Enthralling new details about World War II and Churchill's top-secret Special Operations Executive are uncovered (Val Hennessy, Daily Mail)

As Binney observes in this fascinating and valuable account, these girls were no Charlotte Grays, ducking out of service to pursue calls of the heart. They were girls who did the business. (Alan Judd, Sunday Telegraph)

This remarkable story . . . pays tribute to their astonishing and often unsung heroism without resorting to sensationalism. (Sunday Mercury)

Reading [this] no one would ever doubt the courage of the men and women of Special Operation Executive (Artemis Cooper, Daily Telegraph)

High drama . . . a tribute to the remarkable women who risked their lives (Good Book Guide)

Book Description

Thirty-seven young women volunteered for extremely dangerous undercover work in occupied France during the Second World War. This is their story.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 559 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; New Ed edition (24 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007PR3FLW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #201,280 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational tales, well told. 29 Aug. 2002
This book tells the stories of ten of the women who worked undercover in occupied France during the Second World War. I came to this book curious to know whether there was a certain "type" of person who undertakes such an assignment. I was surprised and encouraged to find that these women came from a variety of backgrounds, had very different personalities, and had ordinary failings like the rest of us (one is described as having a terrible temper, another as having a bad attitude, and yet another was said to be "naive" and "clumsy" by her trainers). All of them had different motivations, ranging from idealism to anger. Some of them were wives or widows, some mothers, some were single, some were described as "tomboys", some were very feminine. What they had in common was their language skills - all were fluent in French, and many in several different languages - and their comparative youth. One of the first things to strike the reader is how young these women were - mostly in their early to middle twenties. Bearing that in mind, their courage, resilience, presence of mind and physical stamina are all the more remarkable. Some of the accounts of the treatment these young women received in prisons and labour camps are extremely harrowing; on the other hand, there are interesting stories of instances when the agents showed great ingenuity. The book is thoroughly-researched and written in a conversational style. There is a helpful glossary of terms at the back, which is very welcome given the smattering of military and wartime terminology. In addition, there are two sets of glossy black-and-white photos of the women themselves, which really help bring them alive for the reader, conveying something of their characters. The photos also help illustrate just how young some of them were, and how full of life. After reading the book, I was left with great admiration for them, and for the author for bringing their stories to a new generation of readers.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and thrilling 23 Aug. 2003
I could not put this book down. The depth of detail on how agents were recruited and trained was excellent.The research done into the lives of the subjects covered was outstanding. This book is a testimony to the women agents. He does not glamourise them, often raising the flaws in the agents characters as well as their bravery. A highly inspirational read, I would heartly recommend this book to anybody interested in the secret war behind WWII.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carve their name in gold 18 Dec. 2010
A fascinating volume of ten short accounts of the women agents ,who infiltrated France and other parts of Europe, of the Special Operations Executive, which was formed by Winston Churchill in 1940 to 'set Europe ablaze'
Trained to use weapons, fluent in French, trained to pose as chic Parisiennes by night and country woman by the day, these valiant, beautiful, dedicated and intelligent women endured, danger, deprivation, torture and sometimes death at the hands of the Gestapo, SS and SD as well as the French collaborationist police, and contributed greatly to the war effort of Britain to defeat Nazism
Gripping and informative. Some really interesting facts about espionage during World War II.The author conducted interviews and used the official documents which adds authenticity to this volume.

He recounts that it was the 'highly intelligent sensitive'women who endured torture best, not the 'tough guys'.
People who had been tortured revealed that it was the 'smaller things' such as puling out of death or nails, not the beatings, hangings by the wrists, electric shocks or near drownings, which made them semi-conscious after a time.
Most agreed if you could endure the first quarter of an hour without talking you probably wouldn't talk at all.

The biographies of such women as Christina Granville, Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Khan and Paola Del Din, what motivated them, what made them effective as agents and what they endured is a valuable\ insight into understanding both the espionage during the Second World War and the role of espionage in that war.
In today's fight against terror and Islamo-Nazism, the heroism of new men and women will be required and revealed
Carve their name in gold
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good as a starter.... 21 Jan. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think this is an ideal 'taster' book, to then follow up with a more detailed history on each of the women.
As there's a chapter on each of them, it's a book you can dip in and out of which, when you're not in a position to read on a daily basis, is a good thing.
It's been said before, but I am so much in awe of these women who volunteered for this work, knowing they stood a very small chance of returning.
I don't know whether these books are on the schools' reading lists but, if they aren't, they should be!!
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing. It's written in such a way that it tells us about the lives of members of the SOE, with honest sensitivity. Reading about the heroines of the Special Operations Executive made me proud to be British, and proud to be a woman. It's thanks to those brave women - men too - that we in the UK, and in Western Europe, are free today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Agents of SOE 29 Jun. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very comprehensive account of the women agents of SOE who were sent to occupied France. Each chapter explores the life of one agent. Very well written and interesting. What brave people they were!
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