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A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II Hardcover – April 9, 2019

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,789 ratings

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Frequently bought together

  • A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
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  • The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
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  • Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man
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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of April 2019: In this fast-paced biography Sonia Purnell tells the story of Virginia Hall, an American spy who worked undercover in France during World War II for Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). Hall’s story is a surprising one: she began her life in the United States with a mother who wished for the perfect debutante. Hall, however, was more comfortable studying languages, and found herself living abroad and working for the State Department when she lost half her leg in a hunting accident. This setback didn’t slow down Hall at all: she named her wooden prosthetic Cuthbert, drove ambulances in France, and was recruited by a recently formed SOE as a spy in occupied France. Hall posed as a newspaper reporter, enlisting civilians for the French Resistance and establishing an underground network of allies and becoming one of the most important spies during World War II. Purnell does an amazing job bringing Hall’s exploits to life and has crafted a gripping and cinematic biography for an unsung hero of wartime espionage. --Alison Walker

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Praise for A Woman of No Importance:

"[An] excellent biography... if Virginia Hall herself remains something of an enigma — a testament, perhaps, to the skills that allowed her to live in the shadows for so long — the extraordinary facts of her life are brought onto the page here with a well-judged balance of empathy and fine detail. This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down" -- The New York Times Book Review

“[A] compelling saga of a remarkable woman whose persistence was honed early on by her battles against low gender expectations and later on by her disability.” – USA Today

"A gripping take… 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.org

“Never have I read anything like it. Every page is compelling and demands not just to be read, but absorbed. Every act reflects incredible bravery. This is what heroism looks like…Sonia Purnell has ensured Virginia Hall’s place in that great pantheon.” --FOX News

"Electrifying" —Smithsonian.com

“A fitting and moving tribute to an amazing woman.”The Economist

"
Reads like a detailed novel… Purnell’s fascinating book supports her description of Hall’s life as a ‘Homeric tale of adventure, action, and seemingly unfathomable courage." The Columbus Dispatch
 
"Sonia Purnell has written a riveting account of Hall’s work as a ferociously courageous American spy… [she] writes with compelling energy and fine detail." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Purnell’s writing is as precise and engaging as her research, and this book restores overdue attention to one of the world’s great war heroes. It’s a joy to read, and it will swell readers' hearts with pride.” Booklist, Starred Review

“A groundbreaking biography that reads like a spy thriller…a suspenseful, heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant tale of heroism and sacrifice.” —BookPage, Starred Review

“Purnell vividly resurrects an underappreciated hero and delivers an enthralling story of wartime intrigue…fans of WWII history and women’s history will be riveted.” Publishers Weekly

“A remarkable chronicle...this lively examination…shows how, if Hall had been a man, dropping undercover in and out of occupied Vichy, Paris, and Lyon, setting up safe houses, and coordinating couriers for the Resistance, she would now be as famous as James Bond…Meticulous research results in a significant biography of a trailblazer who now has a CIA building named after her.”
–Kirkus

“Impressively researched and compellingly written, this brilliant biography puts Virginia Hall−and her prosthetic leg, Cuthbert−back where they belong : right in the heart of Resistance history.” —Clare Mulley, author of The Women Who Flew for Hitler: A True Story of Soaring Ambition and Searing Rivalry
 
“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
 
“What a fascinating story! Sonia Purnell skillfully takes you deep into the covert operations Virginia Hall led in Nazi-occupied France. Readers will find this tale of her cunning and courage riveting.” —Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage


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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
1,789 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2019
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Top international reviews

s
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply, a brilliant read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 21, 2019
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TemmaD
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable heroine - and a story for our times
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 29, 2019
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Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Biography
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 21, 2019
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4.0 out of 5 stars A True story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 22, 2019
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Ken Richmond
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book read so far this year
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 18, 2019
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Peter Munn
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable bravery
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 16, 2019
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Edward B. Crutchley
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful reading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 5, 2019
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Ninaminacat
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2019
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perdixperdix
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravery and tenacity are granted to few.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 19, 2019
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BLEZ 1
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 13, 2019
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Catyan
5.0 out of 5 stars The real life experience of a secret agent in WW2
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 6, 2020
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Crusty
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, inspiring and at times infuriating
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 4, 2019
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Norman
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2019
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xyz
5.0 out of 5 stars True story of courageous disiabled U.S. woman who fought for resistance in occupied France
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 1, 2019
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D. J. Wheeler
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be a FIVE star + + + review
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 30, 2019
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