Women Wartime Spies (Book) Review

Women Wartime Spies

Released: 1st December 2011
RRP: £19.99
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books
Author: Ann Kramer
Type: Hardback
ISBN: 9781844680580
Pages: 224

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Female spies, in the popular imagination, broadly fall into two groups, innocents being unwittingly used by worldly men or honey pots, knowingly using their feminine wiles to seduce those who should know better. Neither of these portrayals do justice to women's intellectual capabilities. Ann Kramer's inspirational account of the real world of women's wartime espionage shows a world where the women worked hard, trained hard and above all were fiercely committed.

Kramer's account of their lives and fates makes it clear that they were a rare and courageous breed and gives life to stories of individual heroism and to some extent redresses the imbalance in the world's view. The most gifted and capable of the women are individually profiled and the background of the history of spying in the 20th century, including the formation and development of SOE is covered extensively.

Although some achieved posthumous fame, many of the women, like Eileen Nearne, kept their incredible secrets until the end. When Eileen died in 2010, even those closest to her were unaware of her role in SOE. And that is the irony, Kramer argues. The stereotypical spies, such as Mata Hari, have such an enormous place in public consciousness because they were not good, well-trained spies. The good ones slipped by unnoticed. Now, thanks to Ann Kramer, they finally have their place in the sun.

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