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In what became known as the decade of lies, truth and trust were falling victim to fear, racism, and hatred.
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How adversity and rejection and suffering can sometimes turn, in the end, into resolve and ultimately triumph, even against the backdrop of a horrifying conflict that casts its long shadow over the way we live today.
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She would be the first female F Section agent and the first liaison officer of either sex.
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A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II Paperback – March 24, 2020

4.6 out of 5 stars 10,607 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

About the Author

Sonia Purnell is a biographer and journalist who has worked at The Economist, The Telegraph, and The Sunday Times. Her book Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill (published as First Lady in the UK) was chosen as a book of the year by The Telegraph and The Independent, and was a finalist for the Plutarch Award. Her first book, Just Boris, was longlisted for the Orwell prize.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 24, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0735225311
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0735225312
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.52 x 0.78 x 8.45 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 10,607 ratings

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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.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
10,607 global ratings

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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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5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Biography
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 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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Ken Richmond
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book read so far this year
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2019
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