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A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
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A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  22 reviews
"An incredible story of under-appreciated heroism." - USA Today

"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR

The never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II, from the author of Clementine

In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Viking
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4.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  69 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Stephanie Crowe
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Purnell has penned another spectacular history of another outstanding woman. I was enamored with the first history of Clementine Churchill. I loved that one!! And this tale of the exploits of Virginia Hall just blew me out of the water!!! This woman was unstoppable, unflappable and fearless in her desire to serve in WWII. She was the primary developer of the French Resistance and worked for the British Secret Service as well the American OSS. She struggled for 6 years in France working to defeat ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This fascinating account takes the reader deep into the underground of the French Resistance, and behind the scenes of how the Allies worked to arm and coordinate with fighters inside the occupied country to end the war. Hall’s remarkable adventures make for a gripping, if bittersweet read. After struggling to find her place as a young woman, Hall achieved great success in the war, only to struggle to advance in her later career. What was forgiven under the exigencies of war held her back at Lan ...more
Bruce Katz
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
An astonishing history of a woman of incredible courage and fortitude. In brief: a woman in a time and place where women were expected to be demure and subordinate, Virginia Hall refused all such expectations. Despite having lost a leg in a gun accident, she set up and ran the most successful spy and resistance operations in Nazi-occupied France, outwitting the Gestapo, their French collaborators, and numerous double agents. I gather there’s a movie about her in the works. She deserves it. It al ...more
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After somewhat of a rocky start (with the author being a bit over dramatic in her word choices at times), this turned out to be an incredible and gripping read. Virginia Hall was an amazing woman that did so much for France during WWII despite all of the blatant sexism that she had to endure. I wish I had heard of her before now, because she truly is incredible.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book and this woman is riveting. A woman with a prosthetic leg who ran one of the war’s most important spy networks and was instrumental in D-day operations—and yet she’s largely unknown.
Peter A
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author tells the remarkable and inspiring story of Virginia Hall, who overcame physical as well as social norms to be a leading force in France during the Second World War. Born into a family of above average means (in 1906, in Baltimore Maryland), she has a strong independent streak, and a sense of greater purpose in life. She joined the foreign service, and during a posting in Turkey suffered a self-inflicted hunting accident that resulted in the loss of one of her legs (right below the kn ...more
Thelma Fountain
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. This is a really fascinating story not just because of the amazing accomplishments this female spy/resistance worker did to help win the second World War. But because she did these things at a time when women were not usually given opportunities to do this kind of work. I really admire her resilience and her ability to overcome obstacles in her life such as her disability. This is a worthy read especially for young women because Virginia Hall is an a ...more
Kathleen Gray
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Up front- Virginia Hall is one of my personal heroes. She's not widely known, which is appalling because she was incredibly brave and devoted to mission. Hall was not really a socialite (although she was from a wealthy family). Service over self was a theme throughout her life and it's a message that's often lost these days. How she managed to create and run a network in France, escape the Nazis, and then go BACK- amazing. I wish that fans of historical fiction set in this same period would pick ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the inspiring story of Virginia Hall, an American dedicated to the free and independent nation of France. During the occupation of France during WWII, Virginia led Resistance cells to commit acts of sabotage. Despite a lack of consistent support from her male supervisors in Britain, and other male Resistance fighters, she fought courageously for what she believed. I would have enjoyed reading direct quotes from Virginia and those who knew her, rather than the author’s description of what ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
“Hero” is not a fitting enough word for Virginia Hall, she was more of a superhuman! I am astonished that her work and actions are not more widely celebrated. Applause to the author for her meticulous and enthralling book about this this great woman’s life. I find myself wishing I were back in 5th grade in need of an important historical figure to research, write a report and draw up a poster about, I’d certainly want Miss Virginia Hall as my featured heroine to brag about to the rest of the cla ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had not read anything by Sonia Purnell before but I am planning to after I post this. Virginia Hall is the heroine of this book and I cannot comprehend all that she did in WWII to help the French people against the Germans. This book tells of her brilliance in organizing, training, recruiting and every other aspect of cunning resolve to help that country fight the Nazis. Words do not do justice to her actions. This is a book that won't be scanned but thoroughly absorbed and I highly recommend ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book on the courage and life of Virginia Hall, who joined the British SOE during World War II. She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines. Despite her prosthetic leg, She aided the French Resistance in their war with the Nazis. Virginia Hall was the most wanted and was hunted down by the Gestapo. Despite being imprisoned and tortured, She never revealed the operations or those involved. Truly a story of a remarkable and courageous woman.
Jillian Doherty
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The available except could have been 200 pages long and it still would have been too short - what an incredible historical moment, brought to life from an elite story teller!

A truly BA spy ~ there are few espionage stories to rival hers; Purnell brilliantly executes the retelling in a well researched, narrative style.

If you enjoyed The English Teacher by Yiftach Atir / Jason Borne by Robert Ludlum then you'll be as enthralled by this true story!

Galley borrowed from the publisher.
Shari Suarez
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've been waiting for this book ever since I saw that it was already scheduled to be a movie. It didn't disappoint.
It's the story of Virginia Hall, an American woman who worked as a spy and helped with the French Resistance during WWII. These stories have been swept under the rug in the past as unimportant but nothing could be further from the truth in Virginia Hall's case. A perfect read for those who enjoyed The Alice Network and Lost Girls of Paris.
Kari Janine
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of Virginia Hall before reading this book. I’m now fascinated by her story. A woman who accomplished so much in the name of freedom, without looking for accolades, should be universally admired. Because of the nature of her job, and her own nature, she died relatively unknown.

An excellent book, painstakingly researched.
Maria Eugenia
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring story of a woman that defied every limit and faced oppression and discouragement even after already being extremely successful.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely impressive.
A Must-Read
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A must read. An unsung heroine that should be recognized.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So very interesting. Her courage was unbelievable. A must read for anyone who is interested in WWII, spies (especially female) and learning about overcoming obstacles in your life.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book about an incredible, and incredibly underestimated, woman.
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Apr 19, 2019
Eric Barlow
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Apr 19, 2019
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Apr 08, 2019
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Apr 16, 2019
Charlotte Moore
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Apr 19, 2019
Suzi B
Apr 18, 2019 added it
Amazing woman. Read this!
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Apr 10, 2019
John Scoble
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Mar 30, 2019
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Feb 25, 2019
Sandy Belfi
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Apr 20, 2019
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Sonia Purnell is a biographer and journalist who has worked at The Economist, The Telegraph, and The Sunday Times. Her book Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill (published as First Lady in the UK) was chosen as a book of the year by The Telegraph and The Independent, and was a finalist for the Plutarch Award. Her first book, Just Boris, was longlisted for the Orwell prize.