A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance

The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

eBook - 2019
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 A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "An incredible story of under-appreciated heroism." - USA Today, Five Books to Read This Week "A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR The never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of 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.
Publisher: [S.l.]: Penguin Publishing Group, 2019
ISBN: 9780735225305
Characteristics: 368 p
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary

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May 19, 2019

I agree with the professional reviewers that this is an important book for dealing with an historical person none of us ever heard of. I'll never forget Virginia Hall, now, and wish I could have known her.
I find the book also frustrating, though, because I find the author's writing style tedious and her syntax and punctuation errors maddening. Maybe the errors she makes (misplaced modifiers, dangling participles, incomplete sentences) will annoy only those readers with the "English teacher gene," but readers are now forewarned.
The other technique of the author's that I don't care for is her using too many exclamation marks and superlatives. She early on convinces readers that Virginia Hall and her fellow Resistance members were brave beyond imagining, and so she has no need of reminding us of it every page or so. Also, the writer keeps referring to Virginia as being "glamorous" and other synonyms for beautiful and, again, I wonder why she feels the need to repeat it over and over.
Another thing -- I like that she has lots of footnotes for her sources, but she often attributes feelings and thoughts to the characters without any sources noted, and that's when the book seems (to me, at least) to tip over into fiction. How does the author KNOW that the person was feeling that way?
So I hope that before too long a better biographer will be inspired to write about Virginia Hall's life. It's a life I can appreciate, as should many more of us who can remember WWII, and also those who cannot. You're unlikely to read about Virginia Hall in any mainstream history text, yet I'd rather read about her than about all the well-known (male) stars of the era of whom there is much too much out there (e.g. Eisenhower, Churchill, etc. etc. etc.). Some day I imagine there will be a movie made about the French Resistance that does not leave out Virginia Hall; what a relief that will be!

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