Read Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu Online


This is the remarkable biography of Noor Inayat Khan, code named "Madeleine". The first woman wireless transmitter in occupied France during WWII, she was trained by Britain's SOE and assumed the most dangerous resistance post in underground Paris. Betrayed into the hands of the Gestapo, Noor resisted intensive interrogation, severe deprivation and torture with courage andThis is the remarkable biography of Noor Inayat Khan, code named "Madeleine". The first woman wireless transmitter in occupied France during WWII, she was trained by Britain's SOE and assumed the most dangerous resistance post in underground Paris. Betrayed into the hands of the Gestapo, Noor resisted intensive interrogation, severe deprivation and torture with courage and silence, revealing nothing to her captors, not even her own name. She was executed at Dachau in 1944. "Spy Princess" details Noor's inspiring life from birth to death, incorporating information from her family, friends, witnesses, and official records including recently released personal files of SOE operatives. It is the story of a young woman who lived with grace, beauty, courage and determination, and who bravely offered the ultimate sacrifice of her own life in service of her ideals. Her last word was "Liberte"....

Title : Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan
Author :
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ISBN : 9780750939652
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan Reviews

  • Violet wells
    2018-10-31 18:33

    Noor Inayat Khan was the daughter of an Indian Sufi mystic of royal heritage and his American wife. The family lived in Paris before the second world war broke out and Noor wrote and published children’s stories. When the Nazis invaded France Noor and her family escaped to England where she joined the WAAF. Later she was recruited by SOE as a wireless operator and returned to Paris in what was one of the most dangerous jobs of the war (average life expectancy of an undercover wireless operator was six weeks).Noor is an utterly compelling character. While training to be an SOE agent most of her instructors were adamant she should not be used. She was easily flustered, scatter-brained, terrified of weapons. She was also beautiful and thus highly conspicuous – the obverse of ideal for a secret agent. SOE however were desperate for wireless operators. Upon arriving in France she quickly made several highly dangerous mistakes – forgetting passwords, leaving her codes lying about, preserving written versions of all the messages she sent to London which she was told to destroy. And yet, she was to become tremendously courageous and cunning and eventually was the last Wireless operator at large in Paris with the entire Gestapo on her trail. It has to be said this isn’t a great biography. This isn’t wholly the fault of the biographer (though her repeated reference to British “jets” becomes annoying as surely it’s common knowledge Britain was yet to produce a jet aircraft in 1943/44). By the nature of her work Noor was elusive. The months before her capture she was often alone or liaising with fellow agents who were to be executed by the Nazis. So there are big gaps which have to be filled in with guesswork, which is also true of periods of her captivity in Gestapo prisons. But was Noor a pawn in a much bigger story? Events in France at this time, six months or so before the Normandy landings, are as shrouded and electric with conspiracy theories as the assassination of JFK. Shrabani Basu, the author of this biography, writes the official and probably sanitised version of Noor’s life. She believes everything’s she told and presents it as a neat and tidy tragic story. That the capture of practically the entire network Noor worked for was down to bad luck and a double agent called Henri Dericourt. It has since come to light that quite possibly Dericourt was a triple agent, secretly working for MI6. It’s more than likely that he wasn’t the only triple agent. So a theory has emerged that it was in the interests of the Allied high command that the Gestapo captured these agents and played back their radios to London allowing the British secret services to disseminate false information to the Nazis. While the Gestapo were giggling at their cunning at coaxing the British to send arms and money right into their hands the British, in what may well have been a triple bluff, were sending these arms drops to the Calais region with the implication that the landings would take place there and not Normandy. In war many difficult decisions have to be made. In that context the sacrifice of twenty or so agents to save the lives of thousands upon thousands of soldiers has a convincing logic. It’s certainly highly suspicious that SOE chose to ignore so many clear warning signs that their agents had been captured and continued to send messages to their wireless sets. If you’re interested in the female SOE agents sent to France I recommend the brilliant A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII. by Sarah HelmAnd if you’re interested in Noor there’s a very good 40 minute documentary on youtube

  • Tim
    2018-10-24 18:18

    Someone should make a film of Noor Inayat Khan’s life. I can’t understand why they haven’t already. Noor was born a short distance from the Kremlin to an American mother and an Indian Sufi father, himself of royal blood. The family later moved to Paris. Noor became the author of children’s books in her early twenties and was quite successful - Twenty Jataka Tales. When the Nazis arrived the family fled to London. Noor joined SOE and trained to be a wireless operator. She was flown into France at a time (the summer of 1943) when the Gestapo had infiltrated the circuit she was to join. It was a man now known to have been working for the Gestapo who she liaised with in Paris. Basically within a month the Gestapo had arrested virtually an entire network of British, Canadian and French agents and French resistant fighters. They were using captured British wireless sets to send messages to London, organising drops of arms and agents which they would immediately intercept, establishing safe houses which were traps. Noor somehow evaded capture and was now the only wireless operator in contact with London still at large in Paris. Virtually all the resources of the Gestapo are now focused on capturing her. Every time she transmits she runs the risk of the detector vans picking up her location. She has to carry her wireless set from one house to another in Paris where there are Gestapo spot checks everywhere. She’s eventually betrayed by a French woman who is jealous of her and wants the reward. If you want an example of how huge a part luck played in determining whether a person lived or died in the war there’s a very cruel one here. One night Noor manages to escape from the Gestapo prison. She’s on the roof and is about to jump down onto a neighbouring roof when there’s an air raid. She knows the guards always check all prisoners are in their cells whenever there’s an air raid. She manages to climb down onto a balcony of the neighbouring building and enter an apartment. Unfortunately her absence has been noted and the Gestapo have surrounded the area. She is caught as she tries to leave the front door of the building, which in all probability wouldn’t have happened had there been no air raid that night. After this she is sent to a prison in Germany where she is permanently chained in solitary confinement. Eventually she will be taken to Dachau. I suppose the reason her life hasn’t been made into a film is there’s no heart-warming ending. Which maybe begs the question, why do we always need a heart-warming ending?There are two documentaries about her on youtube -'s a memorial sculpture of her in Gordon Square (where Virginia Woolf lived).

  • Chris
    2018-10-18 21:47

    March is women's history month, at least here in the U.S. (I'm never sure if these months and days are an international thing. Earlier this week, it was Polar Bear Awareness day). Why do we need a woman's history month? Well, according to holiday and some textbooks (older ones), women just cooked, cried, and popped at babies, when they weren't being sluts. Thank good for PBS and other networks that show us differently.Of course, here in the U.S., we only care about American women cause those Europeans are strange, chopping off thier wives' heads and everything.Which is a shame because the story of Noor Inayat Khan should be more widely known, especially here in the U.S. Born in Moscow, to an Indian father (a princely son of a royal house) and an American mother (herself a version of American royalty), raised in Britian and France, Noor Khan was an international child before the term was really thought of. Look at how many countries can claim her.Additionally, she was a Muslim who was engaged to Jewish man. All this in pre-WW II Europe.Upon the invasion of France, Noor and most of her family (her father had died by then, one brother stayed) fled to Britian. Noor Khan eventually joined S.O.E. She was a highly princpled, perhaps overly idealstic woman who did not believe in lying. For instance, she told the British comittee that was interviewing her for a comission, extactly what she thought about Indian Independence. A view that differed greatly from theirs, yet she was awarded the comission anyway, and recommended to SOE.She was also a musician and rather talented children's author who believe strongly in fighting aganist the Nazis. Trained by the SOE as a wireless operator, Khan was sent to occupied France to join the ill-fated Prosper circuit. On the circuit's collaspe, she stayed on step of the Getaspo (including some very close calls), and despite great personal risk, kept transmitting. When she was captured, it was because she was betrayed.Khan's story is impressive in two ways. First, despite her royal princess status, Khan seems to have been an everywoman. She might have beena princess, but money was tight. She was bound to her family in much the way many of us are today. At times, she suffered from depression and a desire to find herself. Second, despite the luke warm recommandations of some of her SOE instructors, despite her "soft" upbringing, Khan did not break during her capture. In fact, unlike some of her male counterparts (manly man who would do things), Khan did not break, did not work with the Nazis, or plead for her life. If Anne Frank is used as a door to the Holocaust, Noor Khan should be an example for the power of the human spirit to stay true to principle and cause despite the evils visitied upon a body. She needs more than just an Indian (Bollywood) biopic. Basu seesm to have written the book under the asupices of the Inayat Khan estate/society, yet her biography is balanced and she does consider the stress of a famous family on the children. Khan's book is still in print and intersted readers should also pick it up.

  • Kathryn
    2018-10-31 01:20

    I'm surprised this book isn't more well-known and that it took so long for someone to realize that this incredible woman deserved a full-length biography.Noor was the daughter of an artistic Indian father and an American mother. Raised in France, she was a children's author who was about to embark on an ambitious illustrated children's newspaper called "Bel Age" ("the Beautiful Age") when Hitler invaded Poland.She joined the WAAF and was trained as a radio operator, then joined the SOE. Many of her SOE instructors thought she lacked certain key qualities that necessarily made a good agent but as she was one of the most advanced radio operator they had available, this was overlooked and she became the first female radio operator to be dropped into occupied France. Shrabani Basu's biography is meticulously researched but detail doesn't bog down the narrative: it's a gripping and inspirational read regarding a truly beautiful and determined woman.

  • Ria
    2018-11-16 01:23

    Noor Inayat Khan's story is remarkable and this made for a page turner as the subject matter was so interesting. Buuuut, my enjoyment (which seems like the wrong word given the Nazis and executions and so on) was severely hampered by the writing. The tone wildly oscillated from slavishly imagining the thoughts and feelings of an idealised heroine to sticking so closely to the facts as to make the writing both brief and vague. The narrative voice was continually jarring, I kept finding myself rolling my eyes and wanting to challenge the author on her logic. Ms Basu is obviously passionate about her subject and a huge amount of research has contributed to this book which is very commendable - but this severely needed an editor to pick a tone and stick with it, or at the very least to remove the frequent defence of Noor's mistakes (the 'filing' point for example), as this undermined credibility - biographies shouldn't shy away from being critical of the person in question, no matter how remarkable. All in all, I'm quite frustrated - I had high expectations and really this book deserves more than 2 stars, but I know I will always look back at Spy Princess and feel disappointed. Such a shame.

  • Regina Lindsey
    2018-10-21 18:41

    If you following my reading you know I have a slight obsession with the women of the SOE. All of my reading to date has been an overall examination of the program and its contribution to the war, particularly its role in preparing for the D-Day invasion. I’ve never done a reading on a specific member of the program. If you are going to read on one particular figure of the extraordinary program Noor Inayat Khan is definitely the one to start with. An Indian princess on her father’s side with an American mother, Noor was born in Moscow and raised in Paris. She was an accomplished musician whose brother studied the violin under Stravinsky and was an author of children’s books. Her stories were broadcast on the Children’s Hour of Radio Paris. She was working on the concept of publishing a children’s newspaper when she was forced to flee with her family to London as Hitler’s army was advancing towards Paris. Her father was a Sufi, a Muslim mystic, who also adhered to the teachings of Gandhi. Noor was raised with a sense of religious tolerance and was a Muslim who fell in love with a Jew. Although raised as a pacifist she came to the conclusion that not actively resisting Hitler was tantamount to an accomplice to murder. She volunteered for Women’s Auxiliary Air Force where she learned radio transmission. This combined with language skills attracted the attention of the newly created program of training women for espionage behind enemy lines of the SOE. She was detached to the French section, whose main aim was to prepare the ground for the invasion of France. She was attached to the Prosper circuit, who had become one of the largest, busiest, and most hazardous forces around Paris and of the SOE networks. Noor was the first woman operator to be flown into occupied France and of the thirty-nine women sent to France thirteen, including Noor, never returned.The average survival time for a radio operator in the field was approximately six weeks. Of the more than 200 captured agents of the two sections of the SOE, only twenty-six lived to tell their tale. Within ten day of Noor’s arrival the network had been infiltrated and fallen into complete disarray with sweeping arrests of up to 1500 people. London wanted to extract her but she refused because she was the last radio operator left in Paris. She wanted to remain until a replacement could be sent. London accepted her response as an “offer of sacrifice of a soldier and allowed her to remain.” She eluded capture for three months and continued the dangerous work. She accomplished a great deal including managing to facilitate the escape of thirty Allied airmen shot down in France. A replacement was found and plans were to extract her on October 15, 1943. She was arrested the day before and was eventually executed at Dachau on September 13, 1944 with three other SOE female agents. Her contributions were recognized by both the UK and France, awarded the George Cross from UK and Coix de Guerre from France. She was one of only three women SOE agents to receive the George Cross.Fantastic book! There is a great deal of debate around whether these women were trained properly, whether they should have been sent behind enemy lines, and what their accomplishments really were. Many books are heavily skewered either in lionizing the women or tampering down their involvement. Basu strikes a very good balance in her work. It is obvious she has a great deal of admiration for Noor, but she doesn’t hesitate to show her mistakes and weaknesses. I have my own biases and feel they were incredibly important and am happy to be in Eisenhower’s camp on this one who credits the women’s activity by shortening the war by six month. I like Ike!

  • Aravind P
    2018-10-18 18:30

    This is the story of a young woman, Noor Inayat Khan, born to an Indian sufi mystic father and an american mother. Born in Russia, they move to France where she, with her brothers and sister, grow up in a harmonious surrounding. The book talks a great deal about her good manners and discipline, pointing finger to her father's teachings that influenced the young Noor. The main part of this book covers how she volunteers for the war preparations and becomes the first woman british spy to be recruited for a spy work behind enemy lines. We have read several spy stories so it is somewhat guessable how nerve jaunting work is this having to do it under the enemy's nose. Despite her contacts getting arrested and the circuits getting blown up, she manages to evaded the German Gestapos and continue being a strong communication channel between the resistance group and the British mainland. But eventually, an agent within resistance buckle to the Gestapo's brutality and double crosses her ending up in her capture.With a tragic end at the Dachau concentration camp, she might have disappeared into oblivion had such attempts, to bring back such little known world war heroes, were not taken up. For that the author needs to be really commended.This ought to get more than 2 stars. But for its amateurish writing I am compelled not to exceed it. Shrabani Basu was excellent in her research work done to get the info on a spy from several millions whose archives could never be fully recovered. But the way the book is written at times made me cringe. For instance, she happens to be great-great...-granddaughter of Tipu Sultan, and whenever some dramatic moment comes, writer quotes that it is the blood of Tipu sultan that makes her stay strong. Things like that attempts to deviate from reality and gives the personality an unnecessary mythical greatness. Then few things like "attestation" of her brilliance. Like at the end she quotes something like "...Hitler was glad that the dangerous british spy was caught and their radio link sabotaged.." , then about testimonies from chiefs and agents that sounds like a school report card remarks. I think the editing was shoddy in this case. There was a good research material and they couldn't arrange it properly like a normal non-fiction. This is going to become a movie it seems , they can directly use the book as screenplay!

  • Wanda
    2018-11-05 02:29

    This book is the inspiring biography of Noor Inayat Khan, daughter of an Indian spiritualist and an American who became an SOE agent, working as a wireless operator in occupied France during WW II. With respect to the story itself, it is truly inspiring. This tiny, shy, quiet girl is trained by the SOE, sent to Paris, and is the last surviving agent in her cell when she is finally captured. The courage that she showed is matched only by her determination to be a good agent for her side. The fact that she was not considered temperamentally or intellectually capable of being a great agent, doubled her tenacity and she succeeded beyond the wildest speculation of her friends and supporters in the SOE community. The author gives us a great flavor of who this young woman was.The other positive in this book was the wonderful description of the SOE training involved in the making of an agent. It truly read like James Bond stuff. What I did not particularly care for in the book is that I found it to be somewhat disjointed. There was something about it that did not hang together well and I felt at times as though I was reading a cliff note. Moreover, although the author did give us an idea of who Noor was, there was something missing. A person is more than the result of a father who imparts the abhorrence of lying and a love for the spiritual. Did the mother have nothing to contribute to Noor as a person? Also, what was Noor’s motivation? The motivation part eluded me. Perhaps the author was limited page-wise and had to omit details that would have fleshed this out more.

  • NORA
    2018-11-07 18:26

    What an amazingly brave woman, and this is such a sad story. Very well researched and really makes the heroic events of SOE come alive.

  • Swasti
    2018-11-09 22:38

    I was finally able to finish reading this book. I loved it! It was very detailed and it gives the reader a good insight in Noor's life and even how she felt in the most difficult of circumstances. I have a great amount of respect for her and the level of bravery she's shown in her short life. More people should know Noor's story.

  • Steve Merrick
    2018-11-12 20:22

    Considering the importance of Noor Inayat Khans single handed radio transmissions from occupied Paris, her two escape attempts from avenue fosche Gestapo HQ, her bravery in the face of torture and failure to tell the interrogators a damn thing, her death after many many months of abuse in a concentration camp,and her final words after being raped and brutalized by a Nazi for an entire night, after all that she said "LIBERTE." Then this children's book author and hero died.....Too much was taken for granted by the writer here, it was assumed that you would understand the dynamics of Sufism, and the operations of the gestapo in hunting down one single lone woman with a radio and a bicycle. Listen she played cat and mouse with them for two and a half months and would have evaded them till D-DAY if she hadn't been betrayed by a jealous sister in the resistance. Of the heroine I am proud but cannot help but feel she deserves a much better book in her name. Considering the dearth of quasi literature that abounds about the resistance and the war against fascism, this book is really worth reading but only for Noor, the book has many fine moments but somehow its as if the writer runs away from the reality of her imprisonment as a night and fog prisoner of the reich. (Note, The night and fog was an order from Hitler to erase any sign of certain types of resistant agents and commandos from the face of the earth, the idea no matter how sickening was to disappear that person so nobody would ever know what happened to them.) Noor Inayat Khan was one such prisoner. I feel that the realities of the Getsapo must have alienated the writer and I cannot blame her but with the best will in the the world this is a near miss of a book. Worth reading but disatisfying.......... Probably a lot like life is some times.....

  • Kriegslok
    2018-11-16 19:40

    This is the biography of an extraordinary woman. Born in Moscow of an Indian father, American mother and raised in the pacifistic Sufi Islamic tradition in France Noor Inayat Kahn's life was fascinating enough before she became a refugee in England from the Nazi onslaught across Europe. Taking England as her adoptive home Noor struggled with her pacifist convictions and pursued her desire to join the struggle of her adoptive country against a commin enemy of humanity. The first half or so of the book deals with Noor's biography, her upbringing and her journeys that help to build a picture of the life experiences that led her to her selfless sacrifice. Joining the WAAF to help the war effort Noor was talent spotted by SOE and trained as a radio operator to be infiltrated into occupied Europe, in her case France, about the most dangerous undecover job going. Despite the blundering incompetence of SOE in England (including the unforgiveable compromising of agents in the field by high ranking British based contorllers), the failure of her superiors to take her warnings seriously and the betrayals suffered by SOE in France Noor managed to be a highly effective one woman show for a number of months, saving the lives of downed British air crews and SOE agents. Captured as a result of SOEs blunders Noor was murdered by the Nazis in Dachau. Basu has produced a worthy account or this young Muslim woman's extrordinary and tragically short life. A moving read.

  • Emma
    2018-11-01 21:37

    The biography of Noor Inayat Khan, this was a revelation to me. Noor was the first woman radio operator parachuted into France to work with the SOE operatives around Paris. She spent almost 4 months sending critical radio messages back to London for a large number of operatives before she was betrayed and captured by the Gestapo the day before she was due to fly back to England. Noor was executed at Dachau only a few months before it was reached by the allies.This is a really moving story of a woman determined to assist the war effort in the best way she can, no matter the risk to herself. It says something about the strength of spirit and sheer will of both her and the other men and women who agreed to risk their lives in occupied France in order to bring the downfall of the Nazi regime.The statistics as to the rate of survival are shocking, I really learned something about a group of people whose story is, in my opinion, not shouted loud enough.

  • Mr
    2018-10-19 19:40

    On Nov. 8, 2012 in London, Princess Anne unveiled Britain's first memorial to an Asian woman, honoring the incredibly brave wartime service of one of the Special Operations Executive's most heroic and mysterious wireless operators. The bust is of Noor Inayat Khan (codename: "Madeleine"), who was murdered in Dachau after her capture by the Nazis. But the even more amazing part of her story is well-told in this book. She was an Indian princess, a gifted harpist, a Sufi who wrote Buddhist fables for children, and a great-great-great granddaughter of the Tipu Sultan. She made her place in history as a spy--but, as a Sufi, she refused ever to tell a lie.Fascinating B&W illustrations in this biography, and a natural narrative extension of codemaster Leo Marks's impressions of Noor in his BETWEEN SILK AND CYANIDE.

  • Safiya Florence
    2018-11-01 23:32

    The moving story of an incredibly beautiful, intelligent and spiritual young woman who gave her life to become a spy in German-occupied France during WWII. Why she wasn't rescued when she sent distress messages to her bosses in the UK, which led to her death in a German prison, will remain a mystery, but that was to be her destiny. This makes her a real selfless heroin we don't hear about often enough.

  • Maurice
    2018-11-07 02:19

    Amazing true story of a Muslim Indian princess who became a spy for England during WW II in German held Paris. Written in so much detail as to be barely readable. Too bad, because it is a story that should be more widely known.

  • Neil
    2018-10-30 22:38

    A moving and fascinating tale of bravery, not the best of narratives and sometimes leaves you confused by the authors style. Overall I would recommend if not to just to let people know of Noors bravery and commitment.

  • Eve Horner
    2018-11-09 00:27

    InspiringGreat story. Such courage and commitment. Go with God - to whatever inspires you brave until the end. God bless

  • Rage Against the Book
    2018-11-11 00:24

    Really interesting subject matter, but the writing is exceedingly dull. It's seviceable, yes, but does no credit to the otherwise exciting subject matter. A great deal of Noor Inayat Khan's childhood is grounded in the Sufi tradition, but the author doesn't even give us a brief primer on what Sufism is. The reader is assumed to either know the basics already, or worse, is left to do his or her own research (I went down this black hole for a few hours, and came out more confused than when I went in). Without the contextualization of the narrative, it becomes difficult to understand Khan's motivations, as Sufism plays such a central role in her upbringing.It also feels like the author is attempting to fill in gaps in the narrative by exercising her own imagination; I understand that all biographers must do this to a certain extent, but in Basu's case it feels like she is reconstructing entire situations!I think I'm going to pick up the biography written by Noor Inayat Khan's close friend, Jean Overton Fuller. Since she actually knew Khan, she has a better chance of capturing the essence of Khan's personality. Fuller's biography was also written just after the war, which means the events could be more easily (and accurately) recalled by Khan's family, friends and colleagues. Conversely, Basu's account of Khan's life relies heavily on the recollections of Khan's nostalgiac brother, Vilayat (who is 80 years old, and in poor health, at the time of Basu's interview).I love a good WWII biography, but reading this one has been a bit of a chore. A shame, really, because Noor Inayat Khan herself lead such a colourful life.EDIT: Removed a star for Basu referring to Khan wearing a "khaki FANY dress which flattered her slight figure and her oriental features." This autobiography was written in 2006, not 1946. I can't believe that Basu, herself a woman of South Asian descent, would use the word 'oriental' in a book that is supposed to make Noor more accessible to the English speaking world! Why the hell would you exoticize Noor like that? Please give her the respect that you would show any of the other WAAF agents by focusing on her actions, and not using adjectives to describe her looks. Not only are pictures of Noor available online, but reading the word 'oriental' doesn't conjure up any imagery in my head (other than those racist mushrooms from Disney's Fantasia, which frankly is a memory that I'd be happy to forget).

  • Marissa Messer
    2018-11-18 00:40

    "When something exists in the imagination of anybody, you can be sure there is a plane on which it has real existence."The story of Noor Inayat Khan is one that will stay with me for a long time. My husband handed me this book when I had finished one, and didn't have another on hand. I'm very glad he did. It's short, and rather to the point but that's okay. There are times where you get bogged down with so many names and places and information, but there are charts in the back of the book to help along. But this book manages to capture this young woman's innocence, and bravery. She was described as quiet and soft spoken, but went behind enemy lines as a radio operator to communicate with London and help SOE agents. It starts with the end. You see how it ends for her, tragically, and then it takes you to when she was born. The circumstances that made her who she was. This young woman saved so many lives during WWII. It's a factual, emotional rollercoaster but an amazing book that covers key points, an abundance of resources and talking to actual family and friends of this young woman. An amazing story truly.

  • Paul Monaghan
    2018-11-01 22:25

    This book is very revealing a strong story of courage and bravery from Noor Inayat Khan, one of four women Agents of the French Section of SOE, to be awarded the...George Cross.The head of the French Section...Maurice Buckmaster came in for much criticism after the Second World War, but it is noticeable. The four women Agents of the French Section...were the only women to be awarded such a distinctive award during this conflict. All these Agents were selected by Buckmaster himself.During her training many of her instructors stated she was a delicate young woman, who would not be able to endure the rough and tumble of SOE service in France. Another trainer said she was...far too attractive and would be easily observed, not a blend in type of girl.Buckmaster did not take any notice of this assessment...and sent Noor into the field of operations, to carry out the vital resistance work.Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan

  • Nikita Vyas
    2018-10-18 00:38

    Women have usually been described as gentle, polite, sweet, poised. In fact, an ideal women ought to have these characteristics. But what about bravery? Strength? Tolerance? a woman is almost never identified with these qualities. The story of Noor Inayat Khan is a representation of all that a woman can be. She symbolizes bravery and politeness flawlessly. What was it about this petite poilte girl that crowned her the title of "A very dangerously dangerous prisoner" by the Nazis? A beautifully researched book by Shrabani Basu, explaining a great deal about World War II, Churchill, Nazis, women, India and Noor!

  • Avinash Mamtora
    2018-10-21 21:24

    Gripping, fast-paced account of the life and the short but very important contribution of a fearless heroine to the Allied cause in the second great War.

  • Iset
    2018-11-02 21:44

    Stellar research, detailed account of an extraordinary life, the pressures and failings that took place. A little dry in places but altogether a good read.

  • Tamra Karl
    2018-11-09 21:43

    So well researched and an amazing insight into not only the life of one WWII radio operator but into the training and work of many secret agents in England and France.

  • Brandi Bender
    2018-10-23 23:28

    A difficult topic to read about, but I thought it was important to finish. The writing style was difficult to work through at first.

  • Lara
    2018-10-26 00:47

    Read the full review on my blog.Noor Inayat Khan was an impressive woman. I just wish I had read about her in a different book. Noor's courage is impressive. She deliberately chose Paris as her base, even knowing that it was the most dangerous place to be in in occupied France, as it was heavily patrolled by the Gestapo.Furthermore, she was a radio operator and they were particularly hunted by the Nazis and it was difficult for them to blend in, because they had to carry their heavy equipment around.Reading about the cat and mouse game she played with the Gestapo had me on the edge of my seat. Despite knowing what would happen in the end, I couldn't help but hope that she would somehow make it out alive.The problem I had was with this book and the way it was written. It starts out focusing way to heavily on her childhood. While I agree that it is important, it took up too much space. And even there, there were many parts thrown in off-handedly that never were delved into. For example her asshole fiance. We never get much on him, even though he played a big part in her life before she left France.According to Vilayat, Noor's fiancé was too overbearing and distressed Noor. Goldberg would threaten to commit suicide if she left him and Noor never dared to test his threat.In the end, she does break up with him but the whole episode felt oddly detached in the book, as we never get much insight into their relationship apart from sentences like that one.The description of her time in France, on the other hand, felt rushed. It should have been the focal point of the book and I wish the book would have spend more time there and given the narrative more time to unfold.Instead, names were thrown around with abandon. Every single agent was listed, but it was a parade of names. We didn't get a story behind the name, we didn't get to know these people. They were just named and then disappeared again and that definitely does them injustice.Other circuits working with Prosper included Privet, a sub-circuit in the Angers area with Ernest Wilkonson (Alexandre) as organiser, a groupe in the Oise(West)/ Eure(East) area organised by George Darling of Gisors, a group in the Orne organised by Jean Michel Cauchi (Paul) of Falaise, a group in the area run by Pierre Culioli (Adolph) and Yvonne Rudellat (Jaqueline) as courier...Furthermore, the descriptions of Noor in the book annoyed me. It keeps on pointing out what a shy and sensitive girl Noor was.Handling weapons was never going to be easy for this dreamy, sensitive writer of children's stories.Going just by the descriptions of Noor in this book, she might have been a fourteen year old girl and not a courageous, smart young woman that was excellent at her job and kept evading the Gestapo.

  • Pranathi Pothireddy
    2018-10-31 19:43

    This is my first world war II book and for the first time I understood the implications of a war. A heart touching story of a brave girl born in Russia, to an Indian father (Royal Descendants of Tipu Sultan) and an American Mother and brought up in London and Paris. She became a British Spy later in her life to help French Resistance in Germany invaded France.Noor Inayat Khan aka Madeleine. Though coming from a unconventional background and raised by a father who preached non-violence, she did a brave and commendable job for the love of her country. She joined WAAF as a Radio Operator and was later recruited by SOE. Even when every one around her were arrested, and the burden of transmitting messages solely fell on her, she stood firm. Even when tortured by Nazi, she didn't betray anyone while many other agents cracked. She would have lived, if not for the betrayal that ended her life in Dachau Concentration Camp.The World War II. It worked on two levels. One, a physical war which every one knew and other was MI6, SOE, Intelligence war. This book gives us insight into this second type of war. SOE(Special Operatives Executive) recruited and trained selected people for an year to go as agents into Germany occupied countries of Europe. The training was rigorous with physical fitness, learning Morse codes, key phrases, security checks, use of weapons, sabotage techniques, creating cover stories, hiding places, mock Nazi torture, document forgery, spy devices.As small a detail as preparing tea in British way rather than French way could give away the agents to the enemy. Also, Ian Fleming's Character Q, the gadget man was said to be inspired from Charles Fraser Smith, an SOE agent who developed spy and escape devices.Shrabani Basu has done a great job in putting together all the information that is available and presenting this book to us. As said in foreword 'This is a story not to be missed'

  • Michelle Athy
    2018-10-28 18:40

    The first time I heard of Noor Inayat Khan was on the website Rejected Princesses. Her story was fascinating to me and her life is the kind that I'd like to write about in my historical fiction for so many reasons. But if one was writing this as fiction, nobody would believe it. First, Noor had a mixed background: her mother was a white American, her father was an Indian Muslim. Noor was brought up in her father's Sufi faith and raised internationally: born in Moscow, lived in England and France. She was shy, artistic, and raised as a pacifist. When World War Two broke out, the family fled to England, where Noor volunteered for the WAAF. She was recruited into the Special Operations because she spoke fluent French. She was a very unlikely spy because of quiet personality and her pacifist beliefs, but when Noor was sent to France as wireless operator and soon became the only wireless operator in Paris, sending all kinds of messages back to London, she excelled. She evaded capture for months and when she was captured, she tried to escape twice. Noor was killed at Dachau concentration camp and this biography was truly a fascinating insight into somebody who should be better known.

  • Erna
    2018-11-05 22:38

    This is a biography book. This book tells the life of Noor Inayat Khan, one of the great grand daughter of Tipu Sultan (one of the Moslem King in India) from her childhood life in France to her death in prison. She was born in Moscow, and spent her childhood in France. Nora, how she named her self, and her family moved to England after the German attacked France. During her teenage, she applied to be women air force in Britain (during WW II). However, she was recruited to be spy agent due to her excellence in radiogram. Her faith, skills and responsibility made The Gestapo got difficult to caught her. She could be arrested after one of her friend betrayed her just to get some money. She could escape from her first prisoner. After her escape, she was moved to another prison, and placed in single cell with foot and hand being chained until she was excecuted by the Gestapo. What I got from this book is about being brave, responsible and faith.