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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a tale of courage and chilling horror
A Life In Secrets is by far the best book ive read this year...and the most chilling. I couldnt put it down .These lost SOE agents especially the female operatives, my godness , I am haunted by their photos. The author has masterfully written how Vera Atkins ,after the war found out what had happened to the missing agents .. Each being murdered in a most barbaric way...
Published on 19 July 2005 by Stephen Donnison

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85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well researched but failed to portray Vera accurately as a person
My grandfather was Bill Rogers, described in the book as the doyen of the expatriate British community in Bucharest, and I knew Vera very well for 40 years up until her death. I found the book fascinating, particularly on Vera's early life which had been a bit of a mystery to me, but I had to take a lot with a pinch of salt. I tend to agree with reviewer S. Ricks that...
Published on 17 July 2011 by George Morgan


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story about justice with unexpected turns., 29 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE (Paperback)
I certainly boil with anger about the lack of justice for acts of barbarism by Nazis and I suspect many others do too. This story shows how a small group of people did not forget their comrades who were murdered and reveals some of the unusual life of this remarkable woman who pursued the murderers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 50/50, 19 Jun. 2014
By 
M Cunningham (Newcastle upon Tyne) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE (Paperback)
There is an undoubtedly very interesting (and potentially explosive) story to be told about Vera Atkins and the work done by the SOE during the war. Does this book do the subject justice?

Well, Yes and No to be honest. There are really 2 different threads to this book, one about Vera herself and another about the agents she (amongst others) sent to their deaths, I felt that both threads suffered from the presence of the other and neither got the attention it deserved.

I couldnt help but feel that the subject matter would have been better served by 2 seperate books.

The information on Atkins herself is scarce and I finished the book with more questions than answers.

Overall, I feel a bit harsh giving it just 3 stars as Helms writing is good, I'll settle for 3 and a half.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and frustrating in equal measure, 26 Sept. 2012
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First off, this is certainly a good read, and it is very good to know more about Vera Atkins, the eminince grise of SOE, who has appeared in the margins of the accounts of numerous SOE operatives' lives and deaths. And for anyone who has not read individual accounts then it will be a fascinating eye opener as to the personalities involved and the terrifying missions they undertook.
However if you are familiar with the broad outlines of the story of SOE this might well be a somewhat frustrating book, which has too much of the author's struggles to follow Vera's trail and too litle evaluation of the controversies - and even ultimately rather too little in the way of conclusions about Vera herself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most addictive reads!, 19 Aug. 2013
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This provides such insight into the mysterious world of the SOE Agents and the dangers they faced. Vera Atkins, herself, has a fascinating life and her own story is enhanced by the twists and turns of the experiences her agents have. I found some of the content hard to read, as years on, I feel we are immune at times to the horror of war, but the story compels you to read on and have faith in mankind, which sometimes happens.
I would certainly recommend this book to readers interested in the Second World War, Le Carre fans and for those that appreciate the fact that history is greater than what is written in a text book!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I had hoped for, 26 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE (Paperback)
I had wanted to read this book for quite a while, but now having done so am somewhat disappointed. The information on Vera Atkins and many aspects of her life remains 'thin' at best. There is a great deal of padding and irrelevant information about researching the book used to counter a lack of real detail. I don't feel I know any more about Vera Atkins than I did from reading some 1950's accounts of SOE. The information on the agents is, on the whole, interesting and seems well researched. I don't doubt the overall quality of the research, but the book doesn't take our understanding forward a great deal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and disturbing, 2 Mar. 2014
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This is the second time I have read this book.
For the second time I found the content engrossing and yet disturbing: not only for the descriptions of the heroic workers trained and sent to occupied Europe but also for the declared betrayals, the implied enemy agents within the British organisation, and a hidden agenda, again implied.
I made a visit to Vera Atkin's grave in Zennor churchyard and reflected on her work, as I know it from the book. On balance, she succeeded, in spite of the incompetence of others and class distinction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking insight into a remarkable woman and period of history, 29 Aug. 2014
A superb book and so well written. My knowledge of the SOE had been limited to romantic films made in the 1950's, which glamourised the heroics of the female agents. My fascination for the subject grew tremendously through reading this book. Vera Atkins was a remarkable woman but I was left with a few unanswered questions. This did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. The research by the author must have been an immense task, and I commend the author for her skill in offering so much to the reader. A very interesting and thrilling read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight into WW2 history, 22 April 2014
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An enormous amount of research has gone into this book, and it is very well written. But some mysteries still remain - will more be revealed about Vera's early life and the reasons why she tried to keep it such a secret? Was F section part of a plan to deceive the Germans, or were the mistakes as the result of "the fog of war"? Perhaps more will be revealed as additional material is declassified in the future.
Despite the unanswered questions, this book kept me engrossed right to the end - and wanting more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Forgotten People, 17 April 2014
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I was intrigued by the exert I read of this book and decided to give it a try. It is a fascinating insight of the war that was fought by these people. How brave these men and women were and what horrible deaths most of them had. Also it gives an insight to how bullheaded the people in charge were having no experience at all of what it was like for these people. Vera went about trying to find out about how her girls died and she is to be admired for her stubbornness in insisting that she had to do this. A brilliant read
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Woman of Mystery, 18 May 2014
By 
A. MCKEE (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I am surprised that a foreign national could be at the heart of the spies and sabotage for years without anyone realising. How fascinating! How did she get away with it? She is not very likeable as a person but I was shocked by the amount of anti-Semitism at a high level and how pervasive it was throughout the "officer class".
Some parts as very relevant now because of the events in Ukriane and explain the changing borders and the effect on peoples lives in that part of the world
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A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE
A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE by Sarah Helm (Paperback - 1 Jun. 2006)
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