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 transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her."
The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill's "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and--despite her prosthetic leg--helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.
Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.
Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall--an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war.
Sonia Purnell Biography
Sonia Purnell is an acclaimed biographer, whose first book 'Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition' was long-listed for the Orwell prize and was variously described as 'brilliant' 'rollicking' and 'devastating'.
Her new book - Clementine: The Life of Mrs Winston Churchill' - has received fulsome praise on both sides of the Atlantic.It has been shortlisted for the Plutarch prize for Best Biography of the Year. Critics have hailed it as 'admirable', 'engrossing', 'eye-opening', 'scrupulous' 'enthralling' 'compellingly readable' and 'full of surprises.' Praise has been poured on this ground-breaking portrait of a flawed but formidable woman from such esteemed sources as Lynne Olson, the Wall Street Journal, Amanda Foreman, Miranda Seymour, Margaret MacMillan and Blanche Wiesen Cook.
The Daily Telegraph and Independent named it as one of the best books of 2015. Members of the Churchill family have also given a warm welcome to a work that drew on a variety of new sources, as well as the considerable expertise and material of the Churchill Archives in Cambridge and the Imperial War Museum in London.
Sonia, known for her meticulous research and lively writing and speaking style, is about to embark on her second lecture tour of the US. Look out for dates in Boston, NYC, DC, San Diego, San Francisco, LA and Boston from March 10 to March 23 2016.
The book is also published in the UK under the title, First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill.
Sonia, a distinguished journalist and commentator, lives in London with her husband and two boys.
“In this astonishing, intriguing book, Sonia Purnell presents one of the most breathtaking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines. Its strength lies not only in Purnell’s intimate and moving portrayal of Virginia’s secret work, but also in the new light shed on the betrayal, bravery, and bungling of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive for which Virginia worked.” —Sarah Helm, author of Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women