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The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy
     

The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy

4.5 27
by Judith L. Pearson
 

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Virginia Hall left her comfortable Baltimore roots of privilege in 1931 to follow a dream of becoming a Foreign Service Officer. After watching Hitler roll into Poland, then France, she decided to work for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secret espionage and sabotage organization. There she learned techniques her wealthy Baltimore contemporaries

Overview

Virginia Hall left her comfortable Baltimore roots of privilege in 1931 to follow a dream of becoming a Foreign Service Officer. After watching Hitler roll into Poland, then France, she decided to work for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secret espionage and sabotage organization. There she learned techniques her wealthy Baltimore contemporaries would never have imagined—demolitions, assassination, secret radio communications, and resistance organization. She was deployed to France where the Gestapo imprisoned, beat, and tortured spies.
Against such an ominous backdrop, Hall managed to locate drop zones for the money and weapons so badly needed by the French Resistance, helped escaped POWs and downed Allied airmen flee to England, and secured safe houses for agents in need. Soon, wanted posters appeared throughout France offering a reward for the capture of “the most dangerous of all Allied spies . . . We must find and destroy her.” By winter of 1942 Hall had no choice but to flee France via the only route possible: a hike on foot through the frozen Pyrénées Mountains into neutral Spain. The escape was arduous, and Hall’s artificial leg (nicknamed “Cuthbert”) became very painful. In a radio message to London during the journey, she mentioned that Cuthbert was giving her trouble. Forgetting her leg’s nickname, London replied, “If Cuthbert is giving you trouble, have him eliminated.”
Upon Hall’s return to England, the OSS recruited her and sent her back to France disguised as an old peasant woman. While there, she was responsible for killing 150 German soldiers and capturing 500 others,sabotaging communications and transportation links, and directing resistance activities. But the Gestapo had become wise to her ways, and inexorably tightened the noose around her day by day.
This is the true story of Virginia Hall, a remarkable woman ignored by history books for over fifty years.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Judith Pearson does a remarkable job of bringing one of America's greatest spies back to life. I highly recommend this story of derring-do and white knuckles suspense."-Patrick O'Donnell, Combat Historian and Author of Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs"A great, true, spy tale."--Grand Rapids Press Praise for Judith Pearson's Belly of the Beast: A POW's Inspiring True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival aboard the Infamous WWII Japanese Hell Ship Oryoku Maru"An inspiring look at one of WWII's darkest hours."--James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers"Captures an experience almost too terrifying for words. To follow one man's ordeal in a Japanese torture ship is to travel through the bowels of hell."--Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking"[A] searing tribute."--Senator John McCain"Recommended for any public library with readers interested in World War II."--Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592287628
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/2005
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpts from pgs. 9-10, 11-12 She would relive the next ten seconds many times in the coming months. As she lifted her right leg to climb over the fence, her left foot skidded slightly in the damp earth. The gun slipped from under her arm, its trigger catching on a fold of her hunting coat. The sound of the shotgun discharging startled flocks of birds from the nearby trees. But no one in the hunting party noticed the feathered flurry. They were fixed in horror on Virginia's shredded left foot, her blood staining the tawny field grass beneath where she lay....Because of the gun's proximity to her body, the shotgun pellets destroyed Virginia's foot, causing extensive soft tissue and bone damage. In addition, the wound had been highly contaminated by environmental material--fragments from her boot, the grass upon which she fell, the clothing her friends had used to cover her. By the time the very shaken group arrived at the hospital in Smyrna, more than an hour had passed from the time of the accident, and infection had already begun to set in.Although the utmost was done to treat Virginia's wound, there was no way to adequately manage the infection. Evidence of gangrene appeared and Dr. Lorrin Shepard, head of the Istanbul American Hospital, was rushed to Smyrna. He determined that a B.K. amputation, the removal of her left leg from below the knee, was the only course of action possible to save Virginia's life.Even before word of the accident had reached her mother in Baltimore, Virginia Hall was being taken into the hospital's surgiacal ward, where her life would be changed forever.

Meet the Author

Judith L. Pearson, award winning writer's career began in a tree: a wonderful old maple in her parents' backyard, with a perfect branch on which to sit and spill out her thoughts. Now hundreds of thousands of words later, this Michigan native is still writing.A graduate of Michigan State University, Pearson has written nearly two decades worth of newspaper and magazine articles, and has published three books. The first two are biographies about ordinary people who exhibited extraordinary courage: Belly of the Beast: a POW's Inspiring True Story of Faith, Courage and Survival, and Wolves at the Door: the True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy. The latter has been optioned for a movie.A life-changing event caused Judy to depart from biographies to write her third book: It's Just Hair: 20 Essential Life Lessons. A 2012 International Book Award finalist, the book is the first in a series of three, all involving lessons designed to help readers infuse their journey through life with courage and humor. Her current book project, A Different Kind of Courage: 10 Lessons in Celebration of Women's Bravery is anticipated to be on bookshelves in May of 2013.The founder of Courage Concepts, an organization that cultivates courage in women, Pearson provides workshops and keynotes for corporations and organizations. She and her husband split their time between her idyllic little home town on the shores of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. And she still climbs trees!

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Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most compelling spy story I've ever read, I couldn't put it down.. where do we get such people? How can anyone with two legs achieve all that she did? A movie should be made telling the story of this American hero. TW
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read quite a few books based on real spies but this one is by far the most compelling. It's incredible to read everything Virginia Hall did to create a resistance against the Nazis during World War II, but even more incredible is that her story is relatively unknown. I'm glad to know her story and have learned a lot of history along the way of reading this book. I couldn't recommend it anymore highly.
Henry_Berry More than 1 year ago
Virginia Hall was a Baltimore-born American Foreign Service officer in Lyon, France, when Hitler invaded in 1940. She quickly made the decision to use her familiarity with the region and contacts she had made as an espionage agent for the Allied forces. She worked effectively in coordinating and directing sabotage, assassinations, and other activities until the Nazis took over the southern part of France which they had allowed to remain nominally indepedent under Petain. After fleeing Lyon to Spain, Hall was brought to London by the British and American intelligence services she had been working with. They had come to prize her abilities in operating undetected, working with the French Resistanance, and causing damage to the German war machine in France. Recognizing that she would be a valuable agent working in France in the time leading up to D-Day, she was sent back into France. After the War, Hall received high awards for her incomparable espionage work from the British and American governments. Pearson--author of other works on personal stories from World War II--tells Hall's daring story in a quick-paced style occasionally going into historical background. An engaging commemoration for this little-known, but major World War II Allied spy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great insight to some of the critical intelligence and resistance operations in the European theater. The story of Virginia Hall was eye opening and a story of exceptional determination and heroism. Virginia Hall was a unique woman who overcame personal and professional obstacles, worked tirelessly to achieve success, and was devoted to her missions with no concern for personal accolades.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Learn about a little known American spy in France during WWII. A fascinating true story of a woman with great leadership ability which helped bring down the Germans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Virginia Hall, overcomes feminist discrimination and a physical handicap to be the best female spy in history. Hall is a heroine of WWII and Nazi occupied Europe. The Wolves at the door is now my favorite spy book. I love history, spies and the underdog who fights and beats all the odds to overcome personal difficulties, so this book was a super read for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EXCELLENT READ. REMARKABLE WOMAN. HOPE THEY MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT HER.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
saxmanOH More than 1 year ago
Great book! Very informative regarding spy activity during wwII. Inspiring story of courage and patriotism by an incredible woman. The military is given credit for allied victory, but a large part of that credit should go to the brave men and women of the French underground.
reader75LL More than 1 year ago
This was a extremely good book.  The detail of Virginia Halls life before her accident and after was excellent.  It is a story that you do not want to put down.  I feel that she was unjustly treated by her superiors in wanting to advance  with the Diplomatic carrer, but sidelined.  Her determination, courage and talent showed that she could do anything she wanted.    
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an extraordinary and valiant woman! Wish they will make a movie although can not decide who should play Virginia's character. The author made at least two errors that I detected: 1) On Chaper 3 the italian heavyweigt boxer champion last name is Not C a m e r a the correct name is C a r n e r a,, 2) On Chapter 13 Virginia's cellmate Elena the correct spanish translation for prostitute is p u t a and Not p u n t a. Hope someone will bring those rrrors to the autho's attention. Also the author used too many french words and sentences with no english translation.
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This woman was unbelievably brave. I couldn't put it down. She should have had much more recognition.
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