Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan” as Want to Read:
Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  211 ratings  ·  42 reviews
This is the remarkable biography of Noor Inayat Khan, code named "Madeleine". The first woman wireless transmitter in occupied France during WWII, she was trained by Britain's SOE and assumed the most dangerous resistance post in underground Paris. Betrayed into the hands of the Gestapo, Noor resisted intensive interrogation, severe deprivation and torture with courage and ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 8th 2006 by Sutton (first published January 1st 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Spy Princess, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Spy Princess

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 801)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Chris
March is women's history month, at least here in the U.S. (I'm never sure if these months and days are an international thing. Earlier this week, it was Polar Bear Awareness day). Why do we need a woman's history month? Well, according to holiday and some textbooks (older ones), women just cooked, cried, and popped at babies, when they weren't being sluts. Thank good for PBS and other networks that show us differently.

Of course, here in the U.S., we only care about American women cause those Eur
...more
Kathryn
I'm surprised this book isn't more well-known and that it took so long for someone to realize that this incredible woman deserved a full-length biography.

Noor was the daughter of an artistic Indian father and an American mother. Raised in France, she was a children's author who was about to embark on an ambitious illustrated children's newspaper called "Bel Age" ("the Beautiful Age") when Hitler invaded Poland.

She joined the WAAF and was trained as a radio operator, then joined the SOE. Many of
...more
Nora
What an amazingly brave woman, and this is such a sad story. Very well researched and really makes the heroic events of SOE come alive.
Ria
Noor Inayat Khan's story is remarkable and this made for a page turner as the subject matter was so interesting.

Buuuut, my enjoyment (which seems like the wrong word given the Nazis and executions and so on) was severely hampered by the writing. The tone wildly oscillated from slavishly imagining the thoughts and feelings of an idealised heroine to sticking so closely to the facts as to make the writing both brief and vague. The narrative voice was continually jarring, I kept finding myself rol
...more
Kriegslok
This is the biography of an extraordinary woman. Born in Moscow of an Indian father, American mother and raised in the pacifistic Sufi Islamic tradition in France Noor Inayat Kahn's life was fascinating enough before she became a refugee in England from the Nazi onslaught across Europe. Taking England as her adoptive home Noor struggled with her pacifist convictions and pursued her desire to join the struggle of her adoptive country against a commin enemy of humanity. The first half or so of the ...more
Steve Merrick
Considering the importance of Noor Inayat Khans single handed radio transmissions from occupied Paris, her two escape attempts from avenue fosche Gestapo HQ, her bravery in the face of torture and failure to tell the interrogators a damn thing, her death after many many months of abuse in a concentration camp,and her final words after being raped and brutalized by a Nazi for an entire night, after all that she said "LIBERTE." Then this children's book author and hero died.....

Too much was taken
...more
Aravind P
This is the story of a young woman, Noor Inayat Khan, born to an Indian sufi mystic father and an american mother. Born in Russia, they move to France where she, with her brothers and sister, grow up in a harmonious surrounding. The book talks a great deal about her good manners and discipline, pointing finger to her father's teachings that influenced the young Noor.

The main part of this book covers how she volunteers for the war preparations and becomes the first woman british spy to be recrui
...more
Wanda
This book is the inspiring biography of Noor Inayat Khan, daughter of an Indian spiritualist and an American who became an SOE agent, working as a wireless operator in occupied France during WW II. With respect to the story itself, it is truly inspiring. This tiny, shy, quiet girl is trained by the SOE, sent to Paris, and is the last surviving agent in her cell when she is finally captured. The courage that she showed is matched only by her determination to be a good agent for her side. The fact ...more
Zach
This is my new favorite book, without a doubt. Shrabani Basu has done an excellent job telling the story of this extraordinary woman. Basu takes us through Noor's whole life, showing how a gentle, dreamy author and illustrator of children's stories came to be parachuted by the Special Operations Executive into France to work as a radio operator for the resistance. Her writing is compelling and powerful, whether describing Noor's childhood in Suresnes writing poems and playing music, her tense ca ...more
Safiya Florence
The moving story of an incredibly beautiful, intelligent and spiritual young woman who gave her life to become a spy in German-occupied France during WWII. Why she wasn't rescued when she sent distress messages to her bosses in the UK, which led to her death in a German prison, will remain a mystery, but that was to be her destiny. This makes her a real selfless heroin we don't hear about often enough.
Maurice
Amazing true story of a Muslim Indian princess who became a spy for England during WW II in German held Paris. Written in so much detail as to be barely readable. Too bad, because it is a story that should be more widely known.
Emma
The biography of Noor Inayat Khan, this was a revelation to me. Noor was the first woman radio operator parachuted into France to work with the SOE operatives around Paris. She spent almost 4 months sending critical radio messages back to London for a large number of operatives before she was betrayed and captured by the Gestapo the day before she was due to fly back to England. Noor was executed at Dachau only a few months before it was reached by the allies.

This is a really moving story of a w
...more
Erna
Feb 09, 2009 Erna rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: every one who like read biography
This is a biography book. This book tells the life of Noor Inayat Khan, one of the great grand daughter of Tipu Sultan (one of the Moslem King in India) from her childhood life in France to her death in prison.

She was born in Moscow, and spent her childhood in France. Nora, how she named her self, and her family moved to England after the German attacked France.
During her teenage, she applied to be women air force in Britain (during WW II). However, she was recruited to be spy agent due to her
...more
Andrea Cohen
Noor Inayat Khan's life was extremely interesting and her service very impressive. At times I got bogged down in the many names and dates in this book, making it a bit tricky to follow and keep people straight. This book did teach me a lot about this amazing woman, the intricacies of the secret service, and how devastating the results of the smallest mistake or bad choice can be in wartime.
DR
On Nov. 8, 2012 in London, Princess Anne unveiled Britain's first memorial to an Asian woman, honoring the incredibly brave wartime service of one of the Special Operations Executive's most heroic and mysterious wireless operators. The bust is of Noor Inayat Khan (codename: "Madeleine"), who was murdered in Dachau after her capture by the Nazis. But the even more amazing part of her story is well-told in this book. She was an Indian princess, a gifted harpist, a Sufi who wrote Buddhist fables fo ...more
Anne
Awesome true story of a truly brave and selfless WWII British radio operator stationed in France who, upon the collapse of her circuit, did the job of six operators and evaded the Nazis for months longer than anyone else had.

Oh and did I mention she was a shy Sufi woman who wrote children's books?
Kazimiera pendrey
this book was ok the content was an interesting account of a female SOE agent who was working under cover in occupied France. However the writing of the book was not up to much in my opinion.
Holly
Fascinating life this woman had, daughter of a sufi mystic and then was a secret agent assisting the French resistance against the nazis. However, the writing and editing was choppy. I didn't feel like the beginning section about her childhood was even written by the same person who wrote about her time in WW2.

In her childhood and pre-war period, the narrator comes across as a sycophant but as Noor/Nora ages the biographer/journalist starts to sink his/her teeth into the story, the first 20% re
...more
Yashu
a very good read. i cant believe this book isn't that popular.. only few know about the book. overall a good read. sticks to facts..
Penny
Very interesting - a lot detail about some of the other individuals impacting on her life that I skipped over.
Jamie
Did not finish. Although I was very intrigued by this woman, I couldn't get into her biography. Unfortunately, it reads a little bit like a high school report than an engaging biography; like just a list of information rather than a story. Perhaps it improved after the first chapter...

I'll watch the documentary instead.
victoria.p
Once you're through the early years and the war starts, it loses a little of the hero worship and settles into a tense, compelling, ultimately sad read. There should be an epic HBO miniseries about Noor Inayat Khan.
Victoria
I read this book in preparation for a school topic on The Blitz which we have coming up. I had obviously heard of the undercover work carried out during the war, but had not heard of Noor.

This book is deeply moving and depicts such a brave young woman and her struggle to do the right thing and help others. None of us can imagine what it would have been like to live Noor's life, but it wasn't that long ago and we should not forget the sacrifices that were made.
Kathryn
This is the story of the first woman to go into occupied Paris as a secret agent and radio operator. It beautifully illustrates Noor's character and I love how this quiet, dreamy girl surprised everyone with her courage and strength, when they all thought she would fail.
I only give it four stars because it was full of a ton of historical information, at times there was too much and it bogged down the story because the details weren't properly set up.
Janice
This book came highly recommended to me and I liked it but didn't love it. It was very slow at times and the while the author does her best to explain all the espionage work, it gets confusing in parts. I did learn a lot about the dangers of working against the Germans in France and was amazed at the various ways the Allied forces used to combat the Germans. It own this book, if anyone wants it, let me know and I will pass it along.
Beth
A fascinating and touching portrait of a remarkable young woman. The fact I had not heard of Noor Inayat Khan before makes me sad as she is a woman we should remember. The book would be enthralling if it was just about her but is made even more fascinating by descriptions of her training with (and the structure of) the SOE.

This is a must read for anyone interested in WWII, spies or extraordinary women,
Hannah
The story of Noor Inayat Khan is fascinating, and I am really glad to have got to know about her. The book, unfortunately, is let down by Basu's slightly dry style. It is very fact-fact-fact-imposition of an emotion-fact-fact-fact, rinse and repeat. Which is a considerable problem in general with biographies of people that we don't have an excess of information about, and it is, by no means, a bad book.
Nancy
Wow! An incredible book by a really good author. Sometimes biographies are difficult to read because the author bogs down in detail, and has a hard time making the narrative flow. This author is a tremendous writer. This was a real page-turner. I'm also more amazed than ever by the subject of this bio--Noor Inayat Khan. An amazing woman...
Revathi Kanduri
This is a very good read book. To know the then perils of people serving nations in covert ways during WWII. Expecially for a women to get into such dangerous jobs.. despite being raised in a musical and peace loving environment. One needs lots of courage to go inspite of all the odds. To continue inspite of knowing what u might be reaching into.
Tonya
I hate to say it, because the subject of this autobiography was amazingly brave and has a great story, but this book was boring. I had a hard time wanting to find time to read it. I am sure lack of information about her was a big part of it - it is very factual and you never felt like you knew her as a person.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 26 27 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The White Mouse
  • A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII.
  • Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park
  • The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Agents of the Special Operations Executive
  • Sisterhood of Spies
  • Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari
  • The Women Who Wrote the War
  • Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia's Women Pilots in WWII
  • The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II
  • Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany
  • A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's Youngest Child
  • A Scandalous Life: The Biography of Jane Digby
  • A Cool and Lonely Courage: The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France
  • Wartime Britain 1939-1945
  • Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue
  • World War II London Blitz Diary, Volume 1
  • Nancy Wake
  • Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944
Victoria And Abdul: The True Story Of The Queens' Closest Confidant Curry: The Story of the Nation's Favourite Dish Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century The Monarch and the manservant Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant

Share This Book