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

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  308 Ratings  ·  59 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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,195)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Violet wells
Apr 27, 2016 Violet wells rated it liked it

Noor Inayat Khan was the daughter of an Indian Sufi mystic of royal heritage and his American wife. The family lived in Paris before the second world war broke out and Noor wrote and published children’s stories. When the Nazis invaded France Noor and her family escaped to England where she joined the WAAF. Later she was recruited by SOE as a wireless operator and returned to Paris in what was one of the most dangerous jobs of the war (average life expectancy of an undercover wireless operator w
...more
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
Jun 03, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it
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
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
Nora
Sep 09, 2012 Nora rated it it was amazing
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.
Kriegslok
Feb 26, 2013 Kriegslok rated it really liked it
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
Nov 19, 2011 Steve Merrick rated it really liked it
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
Jul 23, 2010 Wanda rated it liked it
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
Emma
Aug 08, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
DR
Nov 09, 2012 DR rated it really liked it
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
Zach
Dec 30, 2012 Zach rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 21, 2007 Safiya Florence rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biographies
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
Feb 09, 2011 Maurice rated it it was ok
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.
Pranathi Pothireddy
Dec 15, 2015 Pranathi Pothireddy rated it it was amazing
This is my first world war II book and for the first time I understood the implications of a war. A heart touching story of a brave girl born in Russia, to an Indian father (Royal Descendants of Tipu Sultan) and an American Mother and brought up in London and Paris. She became a British Spy later in her life to help French Resistance in Germany invaded France.

Noor Inayat Khan aka Madeleine. Though coming from a unconventional background and raised by a father who preached non-violence, she did a
...more
Lara
Jan 05, 2016 Lara rated it liked it

Read the full review on my blog.


Noor Inayat Khan was an impressive woman. I just wish I had read about her in a different book.

Noor's courage is impressive. She deliberately chose Paris as her base, even knowing that it was the most dangerous place to be in in occupied France, as it was heavily patrolled by the Gestapo.

Furthermore, she was a radio operator and they were particularly hunted by the Nazis and it was difficult for them to blend in, because they had to carry their heavy equipment ar
...more
Michelle Athy
Jul 13, 2015 Michelle Athy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
The first time I heard of Noor Inayat Khan was on the website Rejected Princesses. Her story was fascinating to me and her life is the kind that I'd like to write about in my historical fiction for so many reasons. But if one was writing this as fiction, nobody would believe it. First, Noor had a mixed background: her mother was a white American, her father was an Indian Muslim. Noor was brought up in her father's Sufi faith and raised internationally: born in Moscow, lived in England and France ...more
Erna
Feb 09, 2009 Erna rated it liked it
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
Aug 16, 2014 Andrea Cohen rated it really liked it
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.
Anne
Aug 26, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
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?
Alka
well I just couldn't bring myself to read it. Had expected it to be an interesting read, claiming as it does, to have two of my favourite themes, history and spy-world. Alas, a disappointment. It is like a official documentation of facts, drab
Nitya
Dec 01, 2015 Nitya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spy Princess by Shrabani Basu tells the story of Noor Inayat Khan, the only Asian secret agent in WWII (and woman to boot).

"As a wireless operator, she was deployed to a unit tasked with sabotaging communication lines. Unfortunately, their position was compromised almost immediately and most of her unit was arrested. Noor refused to abandon post, doggedly working and evading the Gestapo for a while. Eventually, betrayed, caught and two escape attempts later, she was shot at Dachau. She did her
...more
Karen
Jul 13, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read
Watched a nice documentary about her and got fascinated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8hSC...
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
Apr 04, 2013 Holly rated it liked it
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
Mar 09, 2014 Yashu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
Sep 11, 2014 Penny rated it liked it
Very interesting - a lot detail about some of the other individuals impacting on her life that I skipped over.
Lois
Dec 26, 2015 Lois added it
Flooring in every way. Her humanity shone through achingly but I think the book may have done better as a collaborative fare - the extensive exhaustive research was commendable, but often threatened to burden the story, and the less weighted insights into Noor were heart breakingly empathetic and well written, but certain phrases popped up like daisies throughout, hardly fitting for a writer prior to the war. The inclusion of her poems at the start really made this book all the more great and te ...more
Shan Williams
Jun 14, 2015 Shan Williams rated it liked it
I was interested in the life of Noor got a bit lost with all the spy stuff including 3 or more aliases.
Cate Coen
Feb 28, 2016 Cate Coen rated it really liked it
Moving account of brave WW2 heroine, cruelly murdered by the Nazis in 1944.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 39 40 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Flames in the Field: The Story of Four SOE Agents in Occupied France
  • The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Agents of the Special Operations Executive
  • The White Mouse
  • A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII.
  • Sisterhood of Spies
  • Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia's Women Pilots in WWII
  • Station X: The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park
  • Winter in the Morning: A Young Girl's Life in the Warsaw Ghetto and Beyond, 1939-1945
  • Wartime Britain 1939-1945
  • Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue
  • The Women Who Wrote the War
  • Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt: From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra
  • Outwitting the Gestapo
  • Madame de Stäel
  • Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany
  • A Cool and Lonely Courage: The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France
  • The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects
  • Sophie Scholl and the White Rose
432767
Shrabani Basu graduated in History from St Stephen’s College, Delhi and completed her Masters from Delhi University. In 1983, she began her career as a trainee journalist in the bustling offices of The Times of India in Bombay.

Since 1987, Basu has been the London correspondent of Ananda Bazar Patrika group --writing for "Sunday, Ananda Bazar Patrika, "and "The Telegraph."

Basu has appeared on radi
...more
More about Shrabani Basu...

Share This Book