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Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  531 ratings  ·  83 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)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  531 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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Violet wells
Jul 18, 2015 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
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Someone should make a film of Noor Inayat Khan’s life. I can’t understand why they haven’t already.

Noor was born a short distance from the Kremlin to an American mother and an Indian Sufi father, himself of royal blood. The family later moved to Paris. Noor became the author of children’s books in her early twenties and was quite successful - Twenty Jataka Tales. When the Nazis arrived the family fled to London.
Noor joined SOE and trained to be a wireless operator. She was flown into France at
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
May 28, 2010 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
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
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
Regina Lindsey
If you following my reading you know I have a slight obsession with the women of the SOE. All of my reading to date has been an overall examination of the program and its contribution to the war, particularly its role in preparing for the D-Day invasion. I’ve never done a reading on a specific member of the program. If you are going to read on one particular figure of the extraordinary program Noor Inayat Khan is definitely the one to start with. An Indian princess on her father’s side with an A ...more
Jun 04, 2010 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
Dec 29, 2009 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.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was finally able to finish reading this book. I loved it! It was very detailed and it gives the reader a good insight in Noor's life and even how she felt in the most difficult of circumstances. I have a great amount of respect for her and the level of bravery she's shown in her short life. More people should know Noor's story.
Steve Merrick
Nov 19, 2011 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
Feb 02, 2013 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
Aug 08, 2011 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
MisterLiberry Head
Nov 09, 2012 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
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is more like a journal research account than a book per se and maybe that’s how the author wanted to keep it. I personally am not a huge fan of this style of writing as it tends to get information-loaded and loses grip on the crux. Its such a powerful story of grit and determination but this book just doesn’t do justice to the metal that Noor was made of.
Aug 21, 2007 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.
Dec 23, 2010 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.
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
A moving and fascinating tale of bravery, not the best of narratives and sometimes leaves you confused by the authors style. Overall I would recommend if not to just to let people know of Noors bravery and commitment.
Eve Horner
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Great story. Such courage and commitment. Go with God - to whatever inspires you brave until the end. God bless
Rage Against the Book
Jul 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
Really interesting subject matter, but the writing is exceedingly dull. It's seviceable, yes, but does no credit to the otherwise exciting subject matter. A great deal of Noor Inayat Khan's childhood is grounded in the Sufi tradition, but the author doesn't even give us a brief primer on what Sufism is. The reader is assumed to either know the basics already, or worse, is left to do his or her own research (I went down this black hole for a few hours, and came out more confused than when I went ...more
Marissa Messer
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"When something exists in the imagination of anybody, you can be sure there is a plane on which it has real existence."

The story of Noor Inayat Khan is one that will stay with me for a long time. My husband handed me this book when I had finished one, and didn't have another on hand. I'm very glad he did.
It's short, and rather to the point but that's okay. There are times where you get bogged down with so many names and places and information, but there are charts in the back of the book to hel
Paul Monaghan
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is very revealing a strong story of courage and bravery from Noor Inayat Khan, one of four women Agents of the French Section of SOE, to be awarded the...George Cross.
The head of the French Section...Maurice Buckmaster came in for much criticism after the Second World War, but it is noticeable. The four women Agents of the French Section...were the only women to be awarded such a distinctive award during this conflict. All these Agents were selected by Buckmaster himself.
During her tr
Wendy Slater
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have read innumerable books on the SOE (Special Operations Executive was a WW 2 secret organization based out of the UK. They were the code breakers and secret radio transmitters behind enemy lines.) In this Biography of Noor Inayat Khan, we follow her story from her childhood to her becoming the first female wireless operator to be flown into occupied France. What I loved about this biography is that many of the people mentioned (that Noor worked or trained with in the SOE) were persons that ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-first-read
Around 3.7

I have graduated in Computing since 2009 but couldn't understand Cryptography, networking protocols and all the need for it in more than a decade which this book taught me in a single day. I saw this book by chance in my father's library. It's story of a dauntless girl who had blood of Tipu Sultan in her viens. One will always question that why didn't British authorities dismiss the double-spy, why did they send plain instructions (uncoded) to Canadian spies and many more.

She was clear
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Noor Inayat Khan was the first female wireless operator sent to France to aid in the resistance and provide intelligence information for the SOE in the waning year of WWII. Betrayed to the Gestapo she was imprisoned, tortured, sent to Dachau and murdered. To read about her bravery and loyalty is heartbreaking. And even more so, to know that she was caught in this dangerous game, which was aided by her Baker Street handlers and the SOE. She and her fellow agents were sacrificed for the sake of wi ...more
Nikita Vyas
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Women have usually been described as gentle, polite, sweet, poised. In fact, an ideal women ought to have these characteristics. But what about bravery? Strength? Tolerance? a woman is almost never identified with these qualities.
The story of Noor Inayat Khan is a representation of all that a woman can be. She symbolizes bravery and politeness flawlessly.
What was it about this petite poilte girl that crowned her the title of "A very dangerously dangerous prisoner" by the Nazis?
A beautifully r
This is another fascinating story about a woman who played an important role as a spy and radio operator in France during WWII. She is a princess in an Indian Sufi family, who moved to England during WWI, and then to France, near Paris, where Noor was educated. When WWII broke up their idyllic life, they managed to escape to England again, and Noor's desire to 'do something' ends with her back in France. The author has done extensive research, which detracts from the readability of the story. Sh ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Amazing detailed documentation on the life of a famous French spy.
One question for author, I wasn't clear what happened to her Jewish fiancé and his family? One can assume the worse, but does the author know.
Avinash Mamtora
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gripping, fast-paced account of the life and the short but very important contribution of a fearless heroine to the Allied cause in the second great War.

Stellar research, detailed account of an extraordinary life, the pressures and failings that took place. A little dry in places but altogether a good read.
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Play Book Tag: Spy Princess by Shrabani Basu - 5 Stars and a <3 1 9 Feb 20, 2017 04:54PM  
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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