Most people know about the courageous men who battled the Nazis, and the Axis members, during World War Two. However, women helped win the war but are lesser known.
We’ve put together a list of some of the essential books about women spies and their accomplishments. It would be great to know what you think of them and any suggestions for others that you love.
Written by: Sonia Purnell Pub
Published: April 9th, 2019
Who was Virginia Hall? According to the Nazis, she was the most dangerous of all Allies' spies and the number one spy they wanted to kill.
She was just 20 years old when she joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) - an organization that would eventually morph into today's CIA- under the direction of General William Donovan, who recruited her from college at Barnard College in 1941.
She carried out her duties as a secret agent behind enemy lines during World War II. Still, it wasn't until after she was captured by Nazis and tortured that she became famous for being one of only two women on OSS missions in Europe who managed to bring back information about Hitler's plans for new weapons.
Written by: Lynne Olson
Published: March 5th, 2019
It was 1939, and World War II had just begun. The French government knew that the Nazis would attack their country, but they did not know when or where. They tried to keep it a secret from everyone except for one woman who would become an essential part of France's battle against Germany--Madame Fourcade.
She worked as a spy in Nazi-occupied Paris during the war at significant personal risk, including being imprisoned multiple times by German officers and having her children taken away from her by the Nazis because she was spying on them for the Allies. This book goes deeply into her history, heroic actions, and dangers she faced throughout the war.
It's by far one of our favorite books about women spies!
Written by: Larry Loftis
Published: January 15th, 2019
Odette Sansom was an Englishwoman who spied for the British during World War II. She is best known as the "Woman Who Became WWII's Most Highly Decorated Spy." Her achievements include surviving torture, escaping from a concentration camp, and receiving France's highest military honor: The Legion of Honor.
Despite her many accomplishments, she never spoke about them and lived a very private life until she died in 1995 at age 86. Unlike most of the books in this list, it examines how she and Captain Peter Churchill survived this time together.
Written by: Sarah Rose
Published: April 23rd, 2019
On June 6, 1944, the D-Day landings took place and changed the course of World War II. Although this is a very well-known fact about WWII, not many people know that women were involved in these operations on both sides. The Allied forces included women who worked as spies to help coordinate the invasion, while Nazi Germany had female agents whose main objective was to sabotage it.
This book examines three of them, all from very different lifestyles and cultures, all the while working to bring down the Nazis. These include the high society Lisa de Baissac, the middle-class Odette Sansom, and the streetwise Andree Borrell. Not only were they only spies, but they also carried out missions helping to destroy supplies lines and more.
Written by: Tim Brady
Published: February 23rd, 2021
The story of three ordinary teenagers, Hannie Schaft and the Truss and Freddie Oversteegen sisters, who became extraordinary heroes during the Holocaust, will be told in a new book. The girls were part of a group that saved more than 800 Jewish children from being sent to concentration camps.
They lived in Amsterdam, Holland, and had no connection initially but became a powerful unit together. They all did their part for the resistance movement against Nazi occupation. Even though they were only teenagers, they could assassinate German and traitors to the Allied war effort, among other measures.
This book exemplifies how the Dutch fought back but have received a slight mention of their actions.
Written by: Liza Mundy
Published: October 10th, 2017
When most people think of the women who helped win World War II, they picture Rosie the Riveter in a factory. While she is undoubtedly an essential part of history, she was not the only woman working to help America win World War II.
There were thousands of women around the country who worked as code breakers and analysts during WWII. In fact, over 10,000 women were doing this essential work, and they are largely unknown despite their work being vital for winning the war. This also helped women move into other professions that were previously only for men.
Written by: Jason Fagone
Published: September 26th, 2017
Elizebeth Smith Friedman is a woman who you've probably never heard of, but she deserves to be remembered. She was the first female codebreaker in the United States, and her work helped end World War II. Elizebeth's life story is fascinating because she didn't have much freedom, and after all, women were seen as less capable than men at that time.
When World War I broke out, Elizabeth started working in concordance with the American Intelligence Services. Elizabeth began breaking codes with his blessing and became one of America's top cryptanalysts by age 29.
After the war ended, she also helped break the codes of gangsters and other criminals. This book also looks at work with William Friedman and their eventual marriage, which led them to become the "Adam and Eve" of the NSA.