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About Sonia Purnell
Sonia Purnell is the highly acclaimed biographer, journalist and public speaker whose New York Times bestselling book 'A Woman of No Importance' about the heroic American one-legged spy Virginia Hall is out now. The tale of extraordinary derring-do has been acclaimed as 'one of the most breathtaking stories yet told of female courage behind enemy lines' and has been optioned by JJ Abrams and Bad Robot in tandem with Paramount Studios for a major Hollywood movie with Daisy Ridley attached to star. Her book is one of USA Today's Five Must Reads and has been hailed as 'gripping' by NPR and 'a very smooth read about a rocky life' andas 'brilliant' by the Irish Times while The Economist said: 'As tales of wartime derring-do go, it would be hard to beat'. 'It's a joy to read,' said Booklist, ' and will swell readers' hearts with pride.' Sonia's book has also been hailed as one of the best Books of the Year in The Times of London. Details of forthcoming lectures in the US will appear shortly on her website www.soniapurnell.com
Her last book - the bestselling Clementine: The Life of Mrs Winston Churchill' - also received fulsome praise on both sides of the Atlantic and was shortlisted for the Plutarch prize for Best Biography of the Year. Critics hailed it as 'admirable', 'engrossing', 'eye-opening', 'scrupulous' 'enthralling' 'compellingly readable' and 'full of surprises.' Praise poured in 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.
The book is also published in the UK under the title, First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill. Sonia's first work 'Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition' was long-listed for the Orwell prize for best political writing and was variously described as 'brilliant' 'rollicking' and 'devastating'. A distinguished journalist and commentator, Sonia lives in London with her husband and two sons.
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Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London
Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography
“Excellent…This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.” -- The New York Times Book Review
"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
"A meticiulous history that reads like a thriller." - Ben Macintyre
A 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.
“Engrossing…the first formal biography of a woman who has heretofore been relegated to the sidelines.”–The New York Times
From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Woman of No Importance, a long overdue tribute to the extraordinary woman who was Winston Churchill’s closest confidante, fiercest critic and shrewdest advisor that captures the intimate dynamic of one of history’s most fateful marriages.
Late in life, Winston Churchill claimed that victory in the Second World War would have been “impossible” without the woman who stood by his side for fifty-seven turbulent years. Why, then, do we know so little about her? In this landmark biography, a finalist for the Plutarch prize, Sonia Purnell finally gives Clementine Churchill her due.
Born into impecunious aristocracy, the young Clementine Hozier was the target of cruel snobbery. Many wondered why Winston married her, when the prime minister’s daughter was desperate for his attention. Yet their marriage proved to be an exceptional partnership. "You know,"Winston confided to FDR, "I tell Clemmie everything."
Through the ups and downs of his tumultuous career, in the tense days when he stood against Chamberlain and the many months when he helped inspire his fellow countrymen and women to keep strong and carry on, Clementine made her husband’s career her mission, at the expense of her family, her health and, fatefully, of her children. Any real consideration of Winston Churchill is incomplete without an understanding of their relationship. Clementine is both the first real biography of this remarkable woman and a fascinating look inside their private world.
"Sonia Purnell has at long last given Clementine Churchill the biography she deserves. Sensitive yet clear-eyed, Clementine tells the fascinating story of a complex woman struggling to maintain her own identity while serving as the conscience and principal adviser to one of the most important figures in history. I was enthralled all the way through." –Lynne Olson, bestselling author of Citizens of London
Foreword by Harriet Walter.
Clementine Churchill: A Life in Pictures is a fully illustrated and abridged edition of Sonia Purnell’s acclaimed biography, First Lady, including over 100 stunning and rarely seen photographs.
Without Winston Churchill’s inspiring leadership Britain could not have survived its darkest hour. Without his wife Clementine, however, he might never have become Prime Minister. By his own admission, his role in the Second World War would have been impossible but for ‘Clemmie’. That Clementine should have become Britain’s First Lady was by no means preordained. She may have been born an aristocrat but her childhood was far from gilded. Deprived of affection, a secure home and sometimes even food on the table, by the time she entered high society she had become the target of cruel snobbery. Yet in Winston she discovered a partner as emotionally insecure as herself; and in his career she found her mission. Theirs was a marriage that was to change the course of history.
Clementine gave Winston confidence, conviction and counsel. Not only was she involved in some of the most crucial decisions of the war, she also exerted an influence over her husband and his governments that might be judged scandalous today. Her ability to manage this exceptional man, and to charm Britain’s allies, earned her the deep respect of world leaders, ministers, generals and critics alike. While her tireless work to alleviate suffering on the Home Front and abroad made her a champion to many in the population at large.
From the personal and political upheavals of the Great War, through the Churchills’ ‘wilderness years’ in the 1930s, to Clementine’s desperate efforts to sustain Winston during the struggle against Hitler, Clementine Churchill: A Life in Pictures continues to uncover the memory of one of the most remarkable women of modern times.
A major and controversial new biography of one of the most compelling and contradictory figures in modern British life. Born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, to most of us he is just ‘Boris’ – the only politician of the age to be regarded in such familiar, even affectionate terms. Uniquely, he combines comedy with erudition, gimlet-eyed focus with jokey self-deprecation, and is a loving family man with a roving eye. He is also a hugely ambitious figure with seemingly no huge ambitions to pursue – other than, perhaps, power itself. In this revealing biography, written from the vantage point of a once close colleague, Sonia Purnell examines how a shy, young boy from a broken home became our only box-office politician – and most unlikely sex god; how the Etonian product fond of Latin tags became a Man of the People – and why he wanted to be; how the gaffe-prone buffoon charmed Londonders to win the largest personal mandate Britain has ever seen; and how the Johnson family built our biggest – and blondest – media and political dynasty. The first forensic account of a remarkable rise to fame and power, Just Boris unravels this most compelling of political enigmas and asks whether the Mayor who dreams of crossing the Thames to Downing Street has what it takes to be Prime Minister.
1942 sendete die Gestapo folgenden Funkspruch: »Sie ist die gefährlichste unter allen Spionen der Alliierten. Wir müssen sie finden und vernichten.« Gemeint war Virginia Hall, eine Frau aus besten amerikanischen Kreisen, die es geschafft hatte, in Winston Churchills Geheimorganisation Special Operations Executives aufgenommen zu werden. Hall war die erste Frau, die für die Allierten hinter der Linie des Feindes operierte. Sie unterstütze den französischen Widerstand und revolutionierte die verdeckte Kriegsführung. Und das alles trotz einer massiven körperlichen Einschränkung: aufgrund eines Reitunfalls hatte sie eine Beinprothese. Mit ihrem mutigen Einsatz, stets unter Gefahr ihres Lebens, kämpfte sie gegen Nazideutschland und für die Freiheit.