Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Agents of the Special Operations Executive” as Want to Read:
The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Agents of the Special Operations Executive
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Agents of the Special Operations Executive

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  22 reviews
The Special Operations Executive was formed by Winston Churchill in 1940 to "set Europe ablaze." In the SOE women were trained to handle guns and explosives, work undercover, endure interrogation by the Gestapo, and use complex codes. In The Women Who Lived for Danger, acclaimed historian Marcus Binney recounts the story of ten remarkable women who were dropped in occupied ...more
Hardcover, 380 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by William Morrow (first published 2002)
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 The Women Who Lived for Danger, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Women Who Lived for Danger

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
303rd out of 544 books — 615 voters
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. ShirerBand of Brothers by Stephen E. AmbroseThe Longest Day by Cornelius RyanHiroshima by John Hersey
World War Two Non Fiction
236th out of 275 books — 211 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 570)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I was fascinated by the subject. However, I have the following quibbles.

a) for a book about women the ratio of stories about their male counterparts: the actual women, was a little disheartening. Now, I am sure there are good reasons for this. For instance, it seems rather obvious that there is often little written information about spies, but, the men were spies too.

b) the book was often dry--in a, "how can you make a story about women blowing up trains in the dead of night prior to D-Day, soun
Regina Lindsey
I became interested in this subject many years ago after reading Ken Follett's Jackdaws. I was sorely disappointed

During WWII, Churchill developed a program entitled the Special Operational Executive which recuited young, attractive women with exellent language skills to undertake special assignment behind enemy lines. The program eventually served as the model for the establishment of America's CIA program. The book opens briefly by discussing the recruitment and training process then highlight
This was informative. Having read just before this, several full length non-fiction biographies for 4 of these women SOE operatives, it was somewhat redundant for me. I also knew the endings for about 6 of these lives- and more detail not covered here in their associations for at least 3. This book can't hold a candle to the Ben MacIntyre editions of WWII espionage detailing. And that makes comparisons tough on Binney. So for others, this book might be a 4 star in the depth of overview to their ...more
This is the most riveting book I've read in a while. I'd pick it up to glance through it for names or photos, read a paragraph, sit down and read to the end of the chapter, then go back and read the whole chapter through from the beginning--without being able to focus on anything else around me. I did eventually make my way through the whole book from front to back.

It's a series of portraits of adventurers and freedom fighters, all working for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) durin
Gail Amendt
This is a five star history book with two star writing, so I have chosen to rate this book primarily as a work of history rather than a work of literature. There is an incredible amount of history in this book. It tells the story of ten remarkable women who worked as secret agents with the SOE (Special Operations Executive) during WWII. They came from all walks of life and several different countries. Several were parachuted into occupied France with only a short period of training. Some were ca ...more
Amicus (David Barnett)
I was not unfamiliar with the story of SOE before reading this account of the lives of ten women agents and their courage, daring and resourcefulness. I'd read about Noor Inayat Khan and Violette Szabo in several accounts of this exciting period, but had not previously read about Christina Granville - an agent who served throughout the entire war with amazing distinction, was then dumped by SOE, reduced to doing various servile jobs before being brutally killed by a rejected lover just when it l ...more
This was a book that looked interesting at the International Spy Museum gift shop. I really wanted to hear these women's stories but I felt like this book mainly told the events in their lives but I didn't feel like I knew them on an emotional level, except the excellent chapter about Alix D'Unienville. .
May 21, 2014 Clare added it
Shelves: non-fiction, history

You wouldn't think you could make women who worked for the SOE during World War II—women whose job it was to parachute behind enemy lines and disrupt the Nazis in occupied territories, mainly France—boring, but he manages it. I slogged through about 3/4s of this book before remembering I didn't have to finish it if I didn't want to. (Yes, that is something I have to remind myself. Idk, I know it's weird.)
Very interesting subject and biographies. Unfortunately, the book itself is poorly organized and awkwardly written. There are a handful of easy fixes to make this book much more readable, such as intertwining the women's stories as the years go on rather than the stand-alone chapters that so isolated the individual biographies. Another would be to structure the writing with fewer direct quotes or a better integration of quotes to the author's writing. The author is obviously passionate about thi ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Apr 04, 2010 Tara Chevrestt rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tara by: Irene
I spent two days picking this up on and off and as a result, took more naps than ever before in my life. I nodded off every time. In all fairness, biographies are not my usual choice of book, but I was pretty excited about this because of the subject matter. Unfortunately, the stories of the women were so bogged down with details I couldn't remember from one page to the next that I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Also, I don't care who they took as lovers. I would have preferred the bo ...more
Mar 30, 2010 Renee added it
Shelves: new, read-2010
As an American I was not as familier with the explots of some of the agents, who have been asborbed into pop culture. I had hoever, read a book on Vera Atkins (A Life in Secrets) who appears briefly, so I knew some of the stories, and the two books work in tandem, espcially for an American audience.

The stories of the women agents were thrilling and inspiring, and tragic. Even those who survived were not always given their due, which is a tragedy in and of itself. Interesting reading.
I tried, but failed. It was just too hard going; the author kept leaping from one subject to the next and then back again, instead of concentrating on one person at a time. I need to try again when I'm in the mood for something factual as I'm ashamed to have given up on a book which was about such an interesting subject.
If you are interested in the woman who went behind enemy lines during the war, risking their all, then this is the book for you. The unashamed bravery of these woman, put us all to shame, I was often left crying over their sacrifice.

Wonderfully written, a must read!
Rosie Beck
A fascinating book about many of the "special agents" who assisted the SOE in WWII.All pretty much unknown women, some who lived and some who died, with their own special reasons for joining the Resistance. Their bravery was remarkable.
I loved true stories of everyday people turned into heroes. The women who served behind enemy lines in World War II were amazing. The stories could be uneven and I skipped around a bit reading out of order but it was a good read.
I loved true stories of everyday people turned into heroes. The women who served behind enemy lines in World War II were amazing. The stories could be uneven and I skipped around a bit reading out of order but it was a good read.
I love WWII history and have always had a fascination with espionage so this book is the perfect mix. It's an account of many of the female spies during WWII. The stories of these amazing women read like a movie!
The subject of the book is incredible, however, I didn't find the book to be well written.
Amy L.
Amazing story of espionage, double agents and death during WW2..............
Well researched and well written and SO interesting.
An unexpected history of WWII.
Feb 03, 2008 Marilou rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: WWII buffs; spy story fanciers
More true spy stories of WWII.
D added it
Jan 25, 2015
Margaret marked it as to-read
Jan 24, 2015
Hind marked it as to-read
Jan 23, 2015
Kimberlee marked it as to-read
Jan 23, 2015
Jloftin marked it as to-read
Jan 22, 2015
Nicole Evelina
Nicole Evelina marked it as to-read
Jan 22, 2015
Tyler marked it as to-read
Jan 21, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 18 19 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII.
  • Sisterhood of Spies
  • The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy
  • Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II
  • Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II
  • Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II
  • Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945
  • Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany
  • Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS
  • Wartime Britain 1939-1945
  • Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945
  • The Secret Life of Bletchley Park
  • Resistance: A French Woman's Journal of the War
  • Sophie Scholl and the White Rose
  • And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II
  • Wild Bill Donovan
  • Outwitting the Gestapo
  • The Women Who Wrote the War
Great Houses of Europe: From the Archives of Country Life Secret War Heroes Town Houses: Urban Houses from 1200 to the Present Day London Sketchbook: A City Observed The Ritz Hotel: London

Share This Book