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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 18 December 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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on 27 July 2017
Good book. Amazingly brave women who do not get the recognition they deserve.
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on 29 August 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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on 23 August 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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on 21 January 2012
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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on 28 March 2015
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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on 5 December 2009
Where to start!?! I am fascinated by women of this era. I am 26yrs old and although I know the 1930's-40's wasn't quite as wonderful as people make out ( nostalga will encompass our era one day and we will wonder WHY?..)... I am jealous of the oppurtunities women my age got to serve their country!!! Its still alive today - although in different forms but the breed of women was very different.

This book shows the distance they would go to ensure safety of their own people, the stability of their country as much as they could and the horrendous quality of equipment they had to use, some to heavy to carry so they left it behind! Hiking mountains on their own, jumping out of planes flying very low ( in relly rubbish parachutes ) and putting themselves in serious danger to finish their tasks.

I am sure there may be A LOT that cannot be put in a book like this even nowadays, and some may be a little sentationalised or perhaps even "down played" but its a great book to get a good feel of what these girls endured.

Including Christina Granville, Virginia Hall, Lisa De Baissac, Noor Inayat Khan, pearl Witherington, Paddy O'Sullivan, Violette Szabo, Maguerite 'Peggy' Knight, Paola Del Din and Alix D'Unienvile .....GO ON THE GIRLS I say...anyone finishing this should check out the "Night Withes or Stalins Falcons" next....x x x
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on 29 June 2014
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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on 14 August 2013
loved this book, its about women with guts. women like that do not exist today. they did not get the attention men heroes did.
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on 24 September 2015
Good book and very informative and interesting
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