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A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of WWII s Most Dangerous Spy, Virginia Hall

Sonia Purnell

5 Reviews

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Biography: historical, political & military, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Second World War, Espionage & secret services

The incredible untold story of Virginia Hall, an American woman with a wooden leg who infiltrated Occupied France for the SOE and became the Gestapo's most wanted Allied spy, written by acclaimed biographer Sonia Purnell.

'Purnell's account of Hall's hectic, amphetamine-fuelled exploits never falters. It recalls Caroline Moorehead's wonderful book, Village of Secrets but has an added touch of Ben Macintyre's brio ... A rousing tale of derring-do' The Times Book of the Week

'Riveting ... one of the most breath-taking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines' Sarah Helm, author of A Life in Secrets

In 1942, the Gestapo would stop at nothing to track down a mysterious 'limping lady' who was fighting for the freedom of France. The Nazi chiefs issued a simple but urgent command: 'She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.'

The Gestapo's target was Virginia Hall, a glamorous American with a wooden leg who broke through the barriers against her gender and disability to be the first woman to infiltrate Vichy France for the SOE. In so doing she helped turn the course of the intelligence war.

This is the epic tale of an heiress who determined that a hunting accident would not define her existence; a young woman who gambled her life to fight for the freedoms she believed in; an espionage novice who helped to light the flame of French Resistance.

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 gripping, relevant and timely read about a remarkable woman from a talented writer' Deborah Frances-White, author of The Guilty Feminist

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Praise for A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of WWII s Most Dangerous Spy, Virginia Hall

  • A gripping, relevant and timely read about a remarkable woman from a talented writer - Deborah Frances-White, author of The Guilty Feminist

  • Riveting ... one of the most breath-taking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines - Sarah Helm, author of If This Is A Woman and A Life In Secrets

  • 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 Spy Who Loved and The Women Who Flew for Hitler

  • What a fascinating story! With careful research and skillful writing, Purnell takes you deep into the covert operations Hall led in Nazi-occupied France ... Riveting - Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage

  • Remarkable ... 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 Reviews

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Sonia Purnell

Sonia Purnell is a biographer and journalist who has written for The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and The Sunday Times. Her book First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill was a book of the year in the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and Lenny Letter, and was shortlisted for the Plutarch Award for Best Biography. Her first book, Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition, was longlisted for the Orwell prize.

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