The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II

Book - 2007
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She was beautiful. She was ruthless. Recruited at the age of twenty-three by legendary spymaster William Stephenson - code name: Intrepid - Vera Atkins undertook countless perilous missions in the 1930s. Her fierce intellect, personal courage, and facility with languages quickly propelled her to the leadership echelon of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a covert intelligence agency formed by Winston Churchill. During World War II, she became Great Britain's spymistress. Her agents penetrated deep behind enemy lines, aided resistance fighters, destroyed vital targets, helped Allied pilots evade capture, and radioed information back to London. They were prepared to die to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Vera Atkins was demobilized in 1947. Author William Stevenson was the only person she trusted to record her life - as he had done for her one-time recruiter, Intrepid - with one condition: He would not publish her biography until after her death. Here is her incredible story. Book jacket.
Publisher: New York : Arcade Pub., c2007
Edition: First North American edition
ISBN: 9781559707633
Characteristics: xxiv, 354 pages, [16] pages of plates :,illustrations, portraits ;,25 cm.


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rb3221 Sep 10, 2015

A story about Vera Atkins, an amazing woman, and as the spymistress, was a key figure in SOE (Special Operations Executive), formed by Winston Churchill. Atkins recruited and trained agents and her team helped Allied pilots escape, assassinated German soldiers, linked up with resistance fighters to destroy vital targets. Very interesting!
Some fascinating facts, especially for a non-historian include: the numerous pro-Nazi members of the Royal family; the strong anti-Semetism of the British government and many of the Allies; the huge role of the resistance played in the war.
Unfortunately it is a poorly written and poorly told story. The author is very erratic and makes it very difficult to follow with any clarity any one character or any one story. He skips between events and people and it is too easy to get confused.
Reading Sarah Helm's book , A Life of Secrets next. Now finished Helm's book which is a much better book and very well told and written.

Amazingly elucidating and movingly frank. It's most moving in the record of the courageous and unforgettable agents of World War Two.

Apr 25, 2012

Sarah Helms' book about Vera Atkins, A Life in Secrets, is much more worth reading. Spymistress is a scramble of anecdotes.


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Jun 17, 2008

Vera could not be tripped up. Her authority was hidden. She relied greatly on personal connections. She had coaxed a sympathetic squadron leader to lend her an RAF rescue boat to plant Rolande Colas on her first mission. The girl had made her way from the coast to Paris to discuss the raising of resistance armies, and returned to rendezvous with the boat at a set time. The twelve-day operation netted hard and current facts that otherwise would have been difficult to glean.

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