Jan 22, 10
Read from November 01, 2009 to January 22, 2010, read count: 1
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) during WWII but of many different nationalities--French, Russian, Polish, Italian, English, American, Indian. Some of the portraits were put together from newspaper accounts, some from the individual's own notes, some from interviews, some from contemporary accounts, making each tale varied and fascinating in a different way to the others. Some of the stories have happy endings; some don't.
Though it's not central to any one tale, I was struck by how bogus it must have been to be a woman parachutist. The men get to make four practice jumps before they're dropped into occupied territory in the dark; the women only get to do three. When they're jumping with men, in practice or in operations, the women have to go first to boost morale. AND they don't get paid as much. AND they don't necessarily get the parachutist's wing badge, because they haven't done the "required" five jumps! Good thing they weren't in it for the glory… sheesh!
"Have been doing arthritis." --SOE for "radio work."