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A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

Thursday 04/April/2019 - 09:34 AM
Book Cover
Book Cover
The never-before-told story of Virginia Hall، the American spy who changed the course of the 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.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Author: Sonia Purnell
Publisher: Viking (April 9، 2019)
Language: English
Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches

About the Author
Sonia Purnell is a biographer and journalist who has worked at The Economist، The Telegraph، and The Sunday Times. Her book Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill (published as First Lady in the UK) was chosen as a book of the year by The Telegraph and The Independent، and was a finalist for the Plutarch Award. Her first book، Just Boris، was longlisted for the Orwell prize.

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com Review
An Amazon Best Book of April 2019: In this fast-paced biography Sonia Purnell tells the story of Virginia Hall، an American spy who worked undercover in France during World War II for Britain’s Special operations Executive (SOE). Hall’s story is a surprising one: she began her life in the United States with a mother who wished for the perfect debutante. Hall، however، was more comfortable studying languages، and found herself living abroad and working for the state department when she lost half her leg in a hunting accident. This setback didn’t slow down Hall at all: she named her wooden prosthetic Cuthbert، drove ambulances in France، and was recruited by a recently-formed SOE as a spy in occupied France. Hall posed as a newspaper reporter، enlisting civilians for the French Resistance and establishing an underground network of allies and becoming one of the most important spies during World War II. Purnell does an amazing job bringing Hall’s exploits to life and has crafted a gripping and cinematic biography for an unsung hero of wartime espionage. --Alison Walker

“Fast-paced، meticulously researched…a gripping account of an extraordinary woman، and a celebration of courage، ingenuity and grit.” –Shelf Awareness

“Purnell vividly resurrects an underappreciated hero and delivers an enthralling story of wartime intrigue…fans of WWII history and women’s history will be riveted.” -- Publishers Weekly

“Purnell’s writing is as precise and engaging as her research، and this book restores overdue attention to one of the world’s great war heroes. It’s a joy to read، and it will swell readers' hearts with pride.” -- Booklist، Starred Review

“A groundbreaking biography that reads like a spy thriller…a suspenseful، heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant tale of heroism and sacrifice.” -- BookPage، Starred Review

“A remarkable chronicle...this lively examination…shows how، if Hall had been a man، dropping undercover in and out of occupied Vichy، Paris، and Lyon، setting up safe houses، and coordinating couriers for the Resistance، she would now be as famous as James Bond…Meticulous research results in a significant biography of a trailblazer who now has a CIA building named after her.”
– Kirkus

“Impressively researched and compellingly written، this brilliant biography puts Virginia Hall−and her prosthetic leg، Cuthbert−back where they belong: right in the heart of Resistance history.” —Clare Mulley، author of The Women Who Flew for Hitler: A True Story of Soaring Ambition and Searing Rivalry

“In this astonishing، intriguing book، Sonia Purnell presents one of the most breathtaking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines. Its strength lies not only in Purnell’s intimate and moving portrayal of Virginia’s secret work، but also in the new light shed on the betrayal، bravery، and bungling of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive for which Virginia worked.” —Sarah Helm، author of Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women

“What a fascinating story! Sonia Purnell skillfully takes you deep into the covert operations Virginia Hall led in Nazi-occupied France. Readers will find this tale of her cunning and courage riveting.” —Douglas Waller، author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage

Edited by: Yara Sameh

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