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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

When Hitler invaded Poland, Virginia Hall was traveling in Europe. Which was dangerous enough, but as fighting erupted, instead of returning home, she headed to France. In a country divided by freedom and fascism, Virginia was determined to do her part for the Allies. An ordinary woman from Baltimore, Maryland, she dove into the action, first joining a French ambulance unit and later becoming an undercover agent for both the British Office of Strategic Services and the US Office of Strategic Services. Working as a spy in the intelligence network, she made her way to Vichy, coordinating Resistance movements, assisting in Nazi sabotage, and rescuing downed Allies. She passed in plain sight of the enemy and soon found herself being hunted by the Gestapo. But Virginia cleverly evaded discovery and death, often through bold feats and escapes. Her covert operations, efforts with the Resistance, and risky work as a wireless telegraph operator greatly contributed to the Allies' eventual win.…

The Lady is a Spy

by Don Mitchell

Overall Book Review:

This non-fiction book is the ultimate girl power book. It covers the missions of Virginia Hall’s life, paying particular attention to her efforts in the French Resistance of WWII.  The text is interspersed with real photos of Virginia and the war, as well as newspaper clippings, ID’s, passports, and other artifacts. This book not only celebrates the fact that Virginia was a woman, but also an individual with a disability – a prosthetic leg. She did not let what others saw as limitations keep her from achieving what she felt was her mission and part in the war effort.

Virginia is something of a new discovery. There are have been a few new books written about her and two movies that are in production. Finally, some recognition for the work she has done.

This is a great book for individuals interested in history – especially WWII, espionage, or women’s history.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names.

Note:  2 instances where letters are used as abbreviations for profanity that using some imagination you could decipher.

Violence/Gore:  Individual risks life; machine gun fires on rocks; a few instances of threat of imprisonment, torture, and execution; shot in foot resulting in amputation of leg; German forces invaded Poland – war is declared; German invades Luxemburg, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands; 300,000 French citizens dead or injured; weapons drawn; 100,000 killed in combat, executed, or died imprisoned; British bombed German; German bombed British in the Blitz; individuals carrying gas masks; strategy of aerial bombings, naval blockade, and sabotage/subversion; destruction of bridges, trains, factories, etc.; 100 agents dead; individual exposed to poisonous gas had lasting affects; photo of POW at gunpoint; parents, wives, and children killed by U-boat; threat of potential gun; individual nearly split on stake; individual known for brutality in torture and execution; threat to have him eliminated; Pearl Harbor attack; US joins the war; attacks against Germany; individual receives 3 wounds in war; wrenched knee; blew up railway with photo; Nazis killed two men then gathered local men, took them to the tracks, shot them with machine guns – 86 killed, kicked a man in ribs and shoulder; report of seeing dead bodies of colleagues; report of bodies being spiked through necks on fence posts and warning; 1000 acts of sabotage such as bridges blown up, trains derailed, trains destroyed; individuals pinned down by machine fire; discussion of poison tablets for suicide if caught; discussion of shooting man first and then shooting self; bombing planes; threat of house being bombed; a few instances of bridges being blown out, cuts on railroad lines, freight trains derailed, tracks blown up, tunnels made impassable, telephone lines and poles being cut, cars and trucks being destroyed, etc.; report of 20 killed, 150 killed, 500 prisoners, 30 killed, 6 wounded, 5 killed, 4 wounded; photo of dead bodies wrapped up; threat of being tortured to death; photo of firing squad killing 6 men; will kill Nazis; Hitler commits suicide; thousands died; several reports of individuals being sent to concentration camps; agents hanged; front teeth knocked out; broken arm; shins laid open by blows from pick axes; back slashed by razor blades; 2 instances of individuals suffocating on train; report of torture; description of man being shot in the next cell over; reports of individual being tortured, starved, beaten, threatened with execution; report of execution; skin of wrists in tatters from being bound; face beaten up; photo of individuals being taken to b executed; reports of deaths of others; report of individual being executed by firing squad.

Sex/Nudity:  Report of individual being unfaithful; individual owned a brothel; prostitute informants; reference to bed companions; reference to avoiding comforting an individual – implied sexually; report of an individual having friendly relations with females.

Mature Subject Matter:

War; death; concentration camps; espionage.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My favorite books are ones that change me and my perceptions of the world in a significant way. My favorite genre is probably historical fiction with biographies as a close second.