Monday, April 6, 2020
A Woman of No
Geoffrey W. Sutton
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
A woman of no importance is more than just another spy story. Virginia Hall was a true hero who battled men’s prejudice against female warriors as she simultaneously took on the Nazi occupiers of France by organizing resistance fighters and sending vital intelligence to British and American intelligence planners in London during World a War II. Her contributions were recognized much later than were her male peers as cultures in the UK and USA gradually changed to appreciate women.
Fortunately the book not only gives Virginia a voice but it educates us about the horrors of war and the importance of small hidden acts of courage that support the more visible efforts of armed forces.
Virginia Hall's contribution to America does not end with World War II. She joined the newly formed CIA and was assigned to a variety of tasks--many below her level of expertise.
The book is well written and the author clearly appreciates her hero. She shares some of the leaders weak points but even these are often viewed from a generous perspective.
Like the hero herself, the author does not draw much attention to Virginia’s prosthetic leg. We learn enough to realize this was one extra challenge to overcome especially since the progress in prostheses over the last 75 years.
Adding to the burden of prejudice and war are the heavy gear and limited functionality of low tech communication equipment of the 1940s. It’s truly a story of courage, determination, accomplishment, and dedication that would make anyone proud to have been part of her winning team.
Virginia Hall born 6 April 1906 in Baltimore Maryland, died 8 July 1982, Rockville, Maryland USA. You may also like the CIA story.
Purnell, S. (2019). A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II. New York: Viking.