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Thursday, September 17, 2020
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No one reveals the secrets and deceptions of quirky British spies like Ben MacIntyre. From Agent Zigzag to Operation Mincemeat, to the great Double Cross, or to A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, MacIntyre rolls the curtain back on the unlikeliest people who would become great heroes–or traitors–for their work in WWII or in the Cold War. MacIntyre’s new book, Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy, uncovers the story of a woman, codename Sonya, whose life in a lovely Cotswold village, belies the truth that she was really a dedicated and dangerous intelligence officer for the Soviets, who ran Soviet agents all over Europe. While living the life of a quiet and unassuming country housewife, married to a machinist (he was also a Soviet spy), she passed scientific secrets to the Soviets, secrets that helped the Soviets build their nuclear arsenal. MacIntyre has the gift of making you think you’re reading the next great spy thriller, which you are. But you’re reading nonfiction, 20th century history that defies belief.
In conversation with Sonia Purnell. While Soviet Agent Sonya comes to light in Britain in 1942, an American socialite, Virginia Hall, sets to work in Europe behind enemy lines, at exactly the same time as Agent Sonya. A most unlikely spy, and a most unlikely hero, the American Virginia Hall joined British Intelligence to aid the French Resistance in fighting the Nazis. Sonia Purnell is the author of A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of an American Spy Who Helped to Win WWII.