Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler” as Want to Read:
Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,031 ratings  ·  201 reviews
The dramatic true story of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade--codename Hedgehog--the woman who headed the largest spy network in occupied France during World War II, from the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days.

In 1941, a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour became the leader of a vast Resist
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Random House
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 Madame Fourcade's Secret War, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Joanne According to Amazon not yet. Hardcover, kindle and audio.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,031 ratings  ·  201 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating woman! In a time when women barely held jobs, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade ran the largest espionage ring in France during WWII.

Olson does a fabulous job of giving you the background of the country that led to their poor showing when Germany invaded. I had no idea of the political turmoil France was dealing with. In fact, I learned more from this book about international politics leading up to the war than I ever knew before. Olson also provides the necessary background on the Vic
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5+ stars
Marie Madeleine was a 31 year old mother of two when she led the largest French spy network during the Nazi occupation. Alliance, the name of the network, provided crucial intelligence to Britain's M16. Described by a colleague as "the pivot around which everything turns. She has the memory of an elephant, the cleverness of a fox, the guile of a serpent, the perseverance of a mole, and the fierceness of a panther." Although hundreds of Alliance ag
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madame Fourcarde's Secret War is the story of a brave woman. I've noticed a trend of the stories about amazing women doing dangerous activities during WWII finally being told. This Parisian woman ran an underground network to help the allied forces. She was incredible. Her story is well written and researched. It's a great read, especially if you love historical fiction. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Deborah J. Nobles
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I continue to be amazed at how much there is discover about the resilience and courage of ordinary people. Those who took an active part in gathering and sharing information about the Germans during World War II were so fearless and bold. They were not willing to stand by and let evil flourish. Madame Fourcade defied all stereotypes to lead an organization that was vital to the Allies in their campaigns to defeat the Third Reich. She was a true patriot in every sense of the word. This is a great ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is an important addition to the literature about the resistance in France in WW2, such as the books written by M.R.D. Foot, because it highlights a network and its leader who were largely written out of the history because a) the network was founded by a former Vichy official (Navarre), and b) because its primary leader after Navarre's capture was a woman, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade. This is not Lynne Olson's writing at it's best, but if you are interested in the subject of the clandesti ...more
Donna Davis
“The memory of an elephant, the cleverness of a fox, the guile of a serpent, and the fierceness of a panther.”

Marie-Madeleine Fourcaude ran the largest spy network in France during World War II. Charismatic, organized, intelligent and completely fearless, she was possessed of such obvious leadership skills that even very traditional Frenchmen (and a few Brits as well) came to recognize and respect her authority and ability. I had never heard of her before this galley became available; thanks to
Mal Warwick
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
She led the largest French Resistance network against the Nazis for nearly five years. Three thousand agents answered to her, and they delivered intelligence to the British that helped the Allies win the war. Yet she has been virtually forgotten for decades, her courage and resourcefulness ignored by Charles De Gaulle and the French Communist Party, the dominant political forces in France for decades. Because she wasn’t politically allied with either. And because she was a woman. Now a new biogr ...more
The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
For all those idiotic scribblers who actually think they can write about WWII with faux heroines who parachute in and join the Resistance... Read this and weep for your literary sins.
Pam Walter
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, history-france
Alliance, the largest and most effective French underground resistance network of WWII was headed and effectively run by a woman, a practice absolutely unheard of in 1940. That woman was Marie-Madelain Fourcade. Her code name was Hedgehog: a tough little animal, unthreatening in appearance, that, as a colleague of hers put it, “even a lion would hesitate to bite.”

Marie-Madelain set up a spiderweb of an alliance network recruiting agents, who then recruited agents. Alliance soon covered France, g
Rebecca Wilson
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: spy, histories, american, war
This is such an important story — that of average people who reach the limits of what they find to be acceptable and undertake extraordinary tasks to put a stop to it. I am fascinated by the boundary-crossing that causes civilians to say, "I will likely be tortured or killed for what I'm about to do, but I believe in my cause so strongly that it's a risk I'm willing to take."

The French Resistance was microscopic compared to the partisan guerrilla groups in many countries occupied by the Nazis,
Fredrick Danysh
The few works that explore the Resistance Movement in France during World War II tend to ignore the intelligence gathering movements and women. Madame Fourcade was the leader of the largest anti-German intelligence gathering organization in France. The author does an excellent job of telling her story. A good read for those wanting a better picture of World War II against the Germans. This was a free review copy through
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An astounding story!

All I can say is Shame! Shame! Shame! Why has there been no over-the-top acknowledgment of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade? This woman masterminded the biggest spy ring across the length and breadth of occupied France during World War II. She controlled thousands of agents. Yet shockingly, no bright light has shone on her stupendous achievements and sacrifice for her country.
Hopefully Olson's novel will begin to rectify that.
Olson's research is outstanding. Her adherence to comple
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend, history
Wow! I was riveted by the true story of this woman and the spy network she created in occupied France.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting as well as a great read about Marie-Madeline Fourcade, who was the only woman who headed the largest spy network in Nazi occupied France during World War II. She passed along crucial intelligence including providing American and British military commanders maps of the beaches and roads on which the Allied landings took place on D-Day. Hundreds of its three thousand agents were captured, tortured, and executed by the Gestapo, including Fourcade's lover and many of her top spies. Sh ...more
Bruce Katz
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A very solid 4.5. I have read and immensely enjoyed many of Ms Olson’s books — some are among my favorite works of popular history — but this one takes the reader in a very different direction. In sharing the experiences of Mme Fourcade and the resistance group she led in World War Two, Olson has written a book that comes as close to being a thriller as a history book can come. She captures the personalities of the major figures, the terrible risks that faced them everyday, the hair’s breadth es ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I cannot adequately express the feelings of elation, fear, pain, suspense, and incredulity that ran through me as I read this riveting, true-life account of the brave women and men that risked their lives spying in occupied France during World War II. Thank you, Lynne Olson, for introducing so many of us to Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, the woman who headed this largest of spy networks.
I couldn't help wondering, had I been in their shoes, would I have had the courage to put my life at risk not know
Aimee Dars
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, wwii, giveaways
Olsen, Lynne - Madame Fourcade's Secret War

During World War II, Alliance, one of the largest and most important spy networks in France, provided critical intelligence to the Allies through MI6. Conceived by Major Georges Loustaunau-Lacau (a.k.a. Navarre), Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was second in command. When Navarre went to Africa in 1941 to help (unsuccessfully) foment a mutiny against Vichy France, he put Fourcade in charge, and she was the leader through the end of the war. Not only was she the only female leader of a major spy network
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
This was super fascinating! I had a little trouble getting into it at the beginning and while I liked having the pronunciation aid of the audiobook (for all the French and German names/places), I think I would've been better off reading this in print, as I had a difficult time keeping track of the many people. But once I got oriented and the introductory portions were over, I found myself riveted. I love the plethora of work coming out now about women's contributions in WWII and other eras of hi ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book offers a great history level about French resistance during WW II. There are many works of historical fiction about this work that are popular right now, but this offers the true story. As I worked through this text, I confronted the great atrocities of the Germans during WW II. Also I was reminded of the politics within Vichy France and the rivalry between de Gaulle and Giraud. I'd compare Olson's work to that of Erik Larson as she cleverly weaves together the stories of the Alliance ...more
Rhea Abramson
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
10+ stars.....ripped thru this 400 page masterpiece in 5 days. Such a testament to resistance, patriotism and feminism. It reads like a thriller....I could not put it down.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I'm continuously in awe when I read accounts of ordinary men and women doing these extraordinary, courageous acts despite the dangers facing them. This book provides an in-depth look at one of the most successful underground French intelligence networks during WWII, Alliance. Even cooler is that it was run by a woman - Marie-Madeleine Fourcade. Truly incredible to hear about the work of the Alliance members, as well as the numerous citizens who put their lives on the line too to help them.

Lynn Horton
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an inspiring, beautifully written story—and a refreshing break from all the WW1 and WW2 fiction on the market today.

Highly recommended.
Mary Hunter
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very dense read but fantastic. I learned quite a bit of history and gained insights into the struggles that were endured during the horror of WWII
Michelle Grant
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
A very well written book. However, most likely due to my timing, was just too much of a fact-to-fact within a sentence-to-sentence movement through events. In my opinion the book read like a time-line with explanations.
I will have to admit that I am also currently reading Eric Larson's "In the Garden of Beasts" and I just completed Lilac Girls both of which have similar topics and I am very much enjoying. So, my timing may have been off with this one. Consensus would lean towards this being an e
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Chalk up another outstanding WWII book for Lynne Olson! Overall, Madame Fourcade's Secret War is an educational, powerful, and intense read covering the Nazi takeover of France and the emergence of the French Resistance and underground Communist movement. The story is gripping, with tension and danger throughout. It is one of those books that is somewhat difficult to talk about without revealing plot elements.

The book draws on interviews with the Alliance survivors and their families, plus vario
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly researched, yet personal, Madame Fourcade's Secret War is suspensfully paced and interesting to the end. I highly recommend it to all World War II enthusiasts.
I was provided and advance copy through #NetGalley
Loring Wirbel
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lynne Olson writes tightly-focused books, usually with a WWII background, addressing the bravery of common people often neglected by history. Her works should not be seen as sweeping historical analyses, but as character studies. There is hardly a better character undeservedly neglected, at least in the U.S., than Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, who headed up the Alliance spy network in Vichy and Occupied France from 1940 to the end of the European war. There are no great descriptions of battles or po ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When you think of the French Resistance movement in World War II, images of spies, individuals blowing up bridges, and committing other subversive acts to help defeat Nazi Germany come to mind. The woman who was the head of the Alliance, the most famous French resistance organization, probably does not come to mind. Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler will definitely change that!

This marvelous book chronicles Madame Fourcade's
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-favorites
This may be the best non-fiction book I have read. Madame Fourcade became the leader of the largest resistance movement in France (World War II) as a women in early 30s, estranged husband and three kids. She made it her mission to provide M16 with quality intelligence and protect her agents as much as she could. I am amazed at the sheer number of 'ordinary' people who risked everything to defy the Nazis. From the artist who biked along the coast with his son to provide the map used for D-Day, Mo ...more
Rebecca Gorham
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was disappointing. All of the blogs I read advertised it as historical fiction. Being unfamiliar with Lynne Olson's prior works, I didn't know that characterization was inaccurate. This is most definitely nonfiction. While the subject of the book has a captivating story and an interesting life, it wasn't really what I was looking to read at the moment. For a work of nonfiction, kudos to the author for making it is more like a story that a dry recounting of the facts.

I received a copy
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Lynne Olson is a New York Times bestselling author of eight books of history, most of which deal in some way with World War II and Britain's crucial role in that conflict. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called her "our era's foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy."
Lynne's latest book, Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's