Updated from a 2003 edition, this catalog of female spies is depressingly sanitized and breathless.
The language is plain, simple and occasionally clichéd, enlivened by far too many exclamation points. It seems that nearly every one of these 40-plus women was beautiful or attractive, but far more interesting is how many of them knew several languages and were more educated than was typical for girls of their time. The authors (Hunter is a pseudonym for Pamela D. Greenwood and Elizabeth G. Macalaster) cover 300 years, from the Anglo-Dutch wars and Aphra Behn to Valerie Plame Wilson (a one-page “Spotlight”) and Lindsay Moran. The wide range of wars and women includes Ann Story, who spied for and protected the Green Mountain Boys in the American Revolution, and Eva Wu, a dancer who spied against the Communist Chinese in Hong Kong. “Spycraft” activities include making a fake rock to hide documents in and creating a cover identity. Chef Julia Child, actress Hedy Lamarr and Mata Hari are mentioned, although in brief Spotlights rather than full chapters. The language strives mightily to avoid any hint of sex (although the word mistress is used), and while danger is indeed described, it is bleached of any horror.
The cover shows a smiling girl in a trench coat and a fedora, about as inappropriate an image for these brave and resourceful women as can be imagined. (bibliography, end notes) (Nonfiction. 8-12)