The Best Books On Secret Agents And Espionage In WW2

The Books I Picked & Why

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

By Ben Macintyre

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

Why this book?

The story of the double-agent Eddie Chapman – a flamboyant conman, crook, and womaniser – who gets recruited by MI5 and turns into a courageous wartime hero, reads like a thriller. It has all the elements of a great story, combining tales of daring adventure and espionage, and feels almost like the pages of a Le Carre novel, but is in fact a true story, meticulously researched and well presented.


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A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII

By Sarah Helm

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII

Why this book?

While women agents of the SOE have had biographies written about them for years, few knew about the woman who sent them in the field. The story of Vera Atkins, the steely SOE officer from F-section who sent the women agents to France during WWII, filled this much-needed gap. After the war, it was her dogged search for the missing women that uncovered their tragic fate in the concentration camps.


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Flames in the Field: The Story of Four SOE Agents in Occupied France

By Rita Kramer

Flames in the Field: The Story of Four SOE Agents in Occupied France

Why this book?

The story of four women agents from the SOE’s French section and their journey to a death camp in France is movingly told. They travel from different directions and come from different backgrounds but meet their tragic fate together. The book captures the spirit of resistance and their heroism.


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Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945

By Leo Marks

Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945

Why this book?

A thrilling personal account by the brilliant cryptographer, Leo Marks, who was only 22 when employed by the SOE. It was Marks who gave the special codes to famous SOE agents like Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Khan, and Nancy Wake before they left for the field. An insight into how the code war between Germany and England played out, often with disastrous consequences.


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Carve Her Name with Pride: The Story of Violette Szabo

By R. J. Minney

Carve Her Name with Pride: The Story of Violette Szabo

Why this book?

Originally published in 1956, this book is still worth a read, even though more material on the SOE agents is now available. Violette Szabo’s bravery, her death in Ravensbruck Concentration camp at the age of 23 and her posthumous George Cross collected by her daughter Tania, continues to move and inspire.


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