A Woman of No Importance

Review From User :

I recently read a novel about a couple who had worked with the French Resistance and it made me want to read a nonfiction account. "A Woman of No Importance" gave me more than I had hoped for. I am almost completely ignorant about the French Resistance but still it's kind of shocking that I had never heard of the accomplishments of Virginia Hall. Virginia was an American woman who wanted to be a diplomat, rather than marrying well as her mother preferred, at a time when that wasn't really done. Her hopes were thwarted when she accidentally shot her leg while hunting in Turkey and lost her leg. However, her intelligence and drive led her to join the British Special Operations Unit, and her persistence made them send her to France.

She went undercover as an American journalist and she managed to go everywhere and meet everyone and recruit people to the Resistance as she went. Her prosthetic leg made her stand out, but even so she was capable of assuming multiple identities in a single day. She was given a license to kill by her British handlers and she became extremely adept at organizing and carrying out clandestine operations and training participants. When her cover was blown she escaped over snow covered mountains. The British refused to send her back to France so she switched to America's Office of Strategic Services (the OSS and precursor to the CIA) who sent her back to France before D-Day to lead a guerrilla campaign against the Nazis. After the war she worked for the CIA, which failed to utilize her unique skills. What can you expect from an institution that made its female employees wear white gloves to work, even if they had spent time disguised as a French peasant while they fought Nazis. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

There weren't any dull parts to this book and parts of it were quite cinematic. It really should be made into a movie and everyone should know about Virginia Hall.


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