A readable spy thriller that fights against the idea of “the original sin of women at war.”



A history/biography of a group of courageous women spies in World War II.

Most military historians agree that the anti-Nazi resistance played a critical role in reviving defeated nations’ self-respect after the war but contributed only modestly to the Allied victory. Hollywood and popular writers often disagree, and their number includes journalist Rose (For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History, 2010). Working diligently in the archives, the author turns up stories of Frenchwomen who found themselves in England after the war’s outbreak and volunteered to return to France to organize resistance groups, gather intelligence, and direct sabotage. Hollywood’s version would begin with “based on a true story…” and then make wholesale changes. Forced to stick closer to the facts, Rose delivers a swift-moving account that makes for sometimes-painful reading. French volunteers in the Resistance were overwhelmingly amateurs; sadly, this was also true of Britain’s military Special Operations Executive, which, cheered on by Churchill, recruited, dispatched, and supplied agents. Definitely not amateurs, Gestapo counterintelligence officers monitored radio transmissions, broke codes, transmitted their own disinformation, and arrested agents regularly. By 1943, the heart of the French Resistance and many of Rose’s subjects had been arrested or killed. By 1944, the Allies had gotten their act together, parachuting men and adequate supplies into France in preparation for the Normandy landings. Sabotage from the newly energized Resistance, including a few of Rose’s survivors, made it more difficult to send German reinforcements across France, and its strength grew as enemy forces disintegrated. A skilled journalist but also a member of the history-is-boring school of writing, the author adds novelistic touches throughout, such as her subjects’ inner thoughts and emotions. Readers who tolerate this approach will encounter an expert blow-by-blow account of the surprisingly tedious, always dangerous, and mostly short lives of some heroic women.

A readable spy thriller that fights against the idea of “the original sin of women at war.”

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-49508-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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