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A Woman of No Importance

The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Length: 13 hrs and 54 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (127 ratings)

Regular price: $31.50

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Publisher's Summary

The never-before-told story of one woman's heroism that changed the course of the Second World War.

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 guerrilla 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.

©2019 Sonia Purnell (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“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)

“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

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

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Recommended for all women, young & old

I was not aware of Virginia Hall until I saw this book reviewed and decided to use my credit to purchase it. This is a fascinating account of an American woman who disappeared into occupied France as part of Britain's Special Operations Executive corps, where she became perhaps the most important spy ever recruited by that agency. This book should be read by every teenaged girl to show what a woman of her great-grandmother's generation was able to accomplish. I am sending this to my 16 year-old granddaughter.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A “must read” for anyone interested in WWII or the history of women in undercover work.

Very well researched and very well written. Also, sadly, yet another unflattering study of treatment of highly intelligent women. Virginia Hall changed the course of the war in Europe and yet is barely known. A must read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • CB
  • 05-14-19

Interesting...

Pretty good read. Interesting subject (person and times / situation). Oddly, though, I only very gradually got a complete clear picture of what Virginia actually did in 'the field' almost half way through... She was not, for the most part, actively and directly engaged with the enemy. More an organizer, go between, deal broker, wireless operator.
Some very interesting insights / inside info, into what it meant in practical terms to be part of the residence.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

An Excellent Read

This book gets my highest rating. Enthusiasts of WWII history will be dazzled by this non-fiction account of the French Resistance, and one woman in particular, who was an outright hero of the war. She was an involved leader and organizer of the resistance, and worked right under the noses of the Nazis in Vichy France for three years.

Thank you to the author for so clearly bringing this story to our attention. This was a nail biter, and this book is unforgettable.

Also enjoyable is The Nightingale, a similar French Resistance story, albeit fiction.

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Riveting story

An amazing story about an amazing woman. I couldn’t stop listening to find out what happened.

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Exciting story of a very, very, brave woman.

An exciting historical account of a very brave woman during a time of ultimate chaos and evil. Writing is great and the narrator is awesome with one caveat. Her American accent for the main character is very robotic and fake. Not bad enough to make this unenjoyable though. I will say all other character voices and accents are awesome and she is a pleasure to listen to otherwise. I have enjoyed this audiobook.

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  • Elaine L.
  • BRONX, NY, United States
  • 05-10-19

Captivating

Nothing better then stories about real people. This book proves that. Virginia Hall was truly amazing.

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Spy Story Readers Will enjoy.

Really enjoyed this book. I like spy stories so this was of interest to me. If you don't like spy stories this may not be for you as there is little story apart from the subject.

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Fantastic!!!!

this was an amazing book that brings the life the escapades of Virginia Hall. it is now a good favorite and will be read again and again. the narrator was Fantastic!

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Lost history

Great book in every aspect. Lost history. Love herding about the people who make a large contribution but get lost in history books.