A Woman of No Importance
A Woman of No Importance The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II By Purnell, Sonia Book - 2019

The story of Virginia Hall is most remarkable. She was the only woman that received the Distinguished Service Cross for service in WWII. So, this book is a welcome supplement to the literature of the war. Unfortunately, the book suffers from a hagiographical narrative. There is little in the way of critical assessment of the judgement of Virginia Hall. For example, towards the end of the German occupation of France, the French resistance wanted to engage in larger scale combat in conflict with the wishes of Virginia Hall. In contrast Virginia Hall embarked on small scale (19-man unit) the ultimately did not accomplish anything. It was not clear if Virginia Hall had developed this position or it was based on orders from headquarters. The author remains silent. In another defect this narrative annoying never misses an opportunity to blame men as holding back Virginia Hall never considering that there may be other legitimate reasons in some cases. It seems that Virginia Hall increasingly had an acerbic temperament that could have reasonably limited anyone's career. The narrative set forward by the author also suffers from a lot of speculation and presumption. So it is difficult at times to understand what is fact or conjecture. The author also seems to be unaware of key aspects of the liberation of France when there is a statement to the effect that most people think the Normandy landings represented the end of heavy combat. In fact, many of the landings were lightly opposed. Furthermore, the reader experience would be enhanced with selected maps.

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