”A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II” by Sonia Purnell, Viking, Penguin Random House, New York, 2019, 312 pages, $20
You’ve heard of the English writer Virginia Woolf but few have heard of Virginia Hall.
Sonia Purnell, author of “Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill,” has again written a New York Times Best Seller: “A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of an American Spy Who Helped Win World War II.”
Hall defiantly created the French Resistance system despite stumbling blocks from military personnel in England and France. In so doing, she became Hitler’s No. 1 target he wanted dead. In broad daylight, she walked through German-controlled France, evading Nazi patrols by slipping into the shadows. She was able to change personalities and looks in minutes despite her artificial leg protheses. Using eight assumed names, she accomplished more than military leaders could have ever imagined.
Refusing recognition after the war’s end, she accepted one of the United States’ awards presented by Harry S. Truman, but on her terms — privately with no cameras present. She thought of the future, and if her skills were again needed, she wanted no one to recognize her.
I read this book into the wee hours of many mornings, unable to put it down. Intrigue, suspense, danger, betrayal in one well-documented, expertly composed book. This nonfiction account is anything but boring.