D-Day Girls: The Spies who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

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Crown, 2019 - HISTORY - 384 pages
NATIONAL BESTSELLER - The dramatic, untold history of the heroic women recruited by Britain's elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory in World War II

"Gripping. Spies, romance, Gestapo thugs, blown-up trains, courage, and treachery (lots of treachery)--and all of it true."--Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake

In 1942, the Allies were losing, Germany seemed unstoppable, and every able man in England was on the front lines. To "set Europe ablaze," in the words of Winston Churchill, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), whose spies were trained in everything from demolition to sharpshooting, was forced to do something unprecedented: recruit women. Thirty-nine answered the call, leaving their lives and families to become saboteurs in France.

In D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose draws on recently de­classified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the thrilling story of three of these remarkable women. There's Andrée Borrel, a scrappy and streetwise Parisian who blew up power lines with the Gestapo hot on her heels; Odette Sansom, an unhappily married suburban mother who saw the SOE as her ticket out of domestic life and into a meaningful adventure; and Lise de Baissac, a fiercely independent member of French colonial high society and the SOE's unflap­pable "queen." Together, they destroyed train lines, ambushed Nazis, plotted prison breaks, and gathered crucial intelligence--laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war.

Rigorously researched and written with razor-sharp wit, D-Day Girls is an inspiring story for our own moment of resistance: a reminder of what courage--and the energy of politically animated women--can accomplish when the stakes seem incalculably high.

Praise for D-Day Girls

"Rigorously researched . . . [a] thriller in the form of a non-fiction book."--Refinery29

"Equal parts espionage-romance thriller and historical narrative, D-Day Girls traces the lives and secret activities of the 39 women who answered the call to infiltrate France. . . . While chronicling the James Bond-worthy missions and love affairs of these women, Rose vividly captures the broken landscape of war."--The Washington Post

"Gripping history . . . thoroughly researched and written as smoothly as a good thriller, this is a mesmerizing story of creativity, perseverance, and astonishing heroism."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AliceAnna - LibraryThing

I was so disappointed in this book. Yes, it was informative but it was also dull as dishwater. A better writer would have brought these women to life. I felt as though I was reading a history textbook ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thornton37814 - LibraryThing

During World War II, the British placed French-speaking female spies inside France as part of the Resistance efforts. These women did important work preparing for a forthcoming operation to be called ... Read full review

Contents

God Help Us
3
Ungentlemanly Warfare
12
A FirstClass Agent
23
The Queen of the Organization
37
Merde alors
49
To the Very Last Man
63
PART II
67
A Thousand Dangers
69
The Dog Sneezed on the Curtains
191
Hunted
201
When the Hour of Action Strikes
209
PART III
225
Kisses
227
A Patriotic Profession
231
A Little Braver
240
The Sighing Begins
244

The Dark Years
76
Alone in the World
90
Robert est arrivé
105
The Paris of the Sahara
120
Our Possibilities
126
The Demolition Must Never Fail
143
An Obstinate Woman
150
An Endless Calvary
163
The Swap
175
Death on One Side Life on the Other
252
Your Mind Goes On Thinking
267
EPILOGUE A Useful Life
275
Authors Note
287
Acknowledgments
289
Notes
291
Bibliography
351
Index
373
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Sarah Rose is the author of For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History. She has written for the Wall Street Journal, Outside, The Saturday Evening Post, and Men's Journal. In 2014, she was awarded a Lowell Thomas Prize in Travel Writing.

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